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Quaternary marine terraces and fault activity in the northern mainland sectors of the Messina Strait (southern Italy)

Carmelo Monaco, Giovanni Barreca, Agata Di Stefano

Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche, Geologiche e Ambientali, Sezione di Scienze della Terra, Università di Catania

DOI: 10.3301/IJG.2016.10   Pages:


The Strait of Messina area has been affected by strong uplift, which caused the development of spectacular sequences of Pleistocene coastal marine terraces. A new detailed mapping of the terraced surfaces has been carried out on both sides of the northern sector of the Strait. In the Calabrian side, a complete sequence of ten fluvial-coastal terraces has been recognized at elevations ranging from 40 to 520 m a.s.l. and dated from 60 to 330 ka. The series is partly displaced by normal faults bordering the structural high of Campo Piale and the estimated uplift rates change in time and space in response to the fault activity. They range from 1.5 mm/yr for the period 330-200 ka, on the Campo Piale high, to 0.8 mm/yr for the period 125-60 ka, on the hanging wall of the Scilla Fault that borders the Campo Piale high to the north. The constant elevation of the I order terrace suggests an uniform uplift rate of 1.4 mm/yr along the Villa San Giovanni coastal area and a deactivation of the western sector of the Scilla Fault in the last 60 ka, even though the offshore activity of segments belonging to the same system is not excluded. In the Sicilian side, six orders of terraces have been recognized on the Capo Peloro promontory. Their inner edges range in elevation from 30 m to 170 m a.s.l., the age attribution varies from 60 to 240 ka. The series is tilted of ~10-15° southward due to the activity of the Mortelle Fault, bounding the promontory to north. The elevation of inner edges suggests that the uplift process, characterized by rate of 0.8 mm/yr, has undergone an acceleration during the late Pleistocene, probably related to activity of offshore structures.


marine terraces, tectonic uplift, Quaternary, Strait of Messina.

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The official journal of the Italian Geological Society (Società Geologica Italiana) and of the Italian Geological Survey.


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