De Santis, Vincenzo and Caldara, Massimo and Torres Pérez-Hidalgo, Trinidad José and Ortiz Menéndez, José Eugenio
Stratigraphic units of the Apulian Tavoliere plain (Southern Italy): Chronology, correlation with marine isotope stages and implications regarding vertical movements.
"Sedimentary Geology", v. 228
The geologic study of the Apulian Tavoliere plain (Apulia region, southern Italy) is extremely difficult due to the scarcity of outcrops and fauna that could be used for dating. The survey in progress of the 1:50,000 scale geological sheet no. 409 “Zapponeta” (including the coastal zone of the Apulian Tavoliere) has prompted us to tackle this problem by using a large set of borehole data and the AAR dating method applied to ostracod shells, which are capable of colonizing all types of environment as long as there is water. This alternative approach has allowed us to recognise nine stratigraphic units or synthems and, for the first time in this area, to date them, and to find a correlation between them and the cycles of sea level variation. The recognised stratigraphic units are: the Coppa Nevigata sands (NEA; middle Pleistocene: MIS 17–16), argille subappennine unit (ASP; middle Pleistocene: MIS 15–13), the Coppa Nevigata synthem (NVI; middle Pleistocene: MIS 11), the Amendola subsynthem (MLM1; middle Pleistocene: MIS 11), an undifferentiated continental unit (UCI; middle Pleistocene: MIS 8–7), the Foggia synthem (TGF; middle–late Pleistocene: MIS 6), the Carapelle and Cervaro streams synthem (RPL; late Pleistocene: MIS 5–3), and the Inacquata farm synthem (NAQ; Holocene). Within the RPL unit, a buried Cladocora caespitosa bioherm referable to MIS 5.5, lacking in warm fauna, and in which the coral is embedded in clay has been found in some boreholes. This is the first finding of Tyrrhenian deposits with C. caespitosa along the Italian Adriatic coast; the presence of this coral in clayey sediments, a very uncommon occurrence, strengthens the hypothesis that the major fossil reefs grew in coastal waters that were characterised by alluvial inputs of fine sediments, higher turbidity, and higher temperature than today. In addition, on the basis of the current evidence, some consideration about the fauna of the MIS 5.5 layer allows us to hypothesise that the Adriatic Sea underwent a more moderate warming compared to that of the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas. Instead, the finding in the NVI unit of a tropical lagoonal deposit with stromatolites referred to MIS 11 proves that the warming in this stage was undoubtedly greater than that of MIS 5.5. The MM4 borehole, which goes through the MIS 5 layers of the RPL unit, made it possible to recognise two marine phases during MIS 5: the first is referable to the MIS 5.5–5.3 interval, and the second to MIS 5.1. MIS 5.2 is marked by land emersion, whereas no evidence of land emersion between MIS 5.5 and 5.3 has been found. Also for the first time in this area, uplifting and subsiding areas have been recognised and the vertical movements assessed. In general, the data suggest that the Garganic Apulian foreland and the Amendola highland experienced an uplift, while the central-southern part of the study area, belonging to the Apulian Tavoliere plain, suffered a subsidence with rates increasing from north–northwest to south–southeast. In particular, the finding of the MIS 5.5 buried layer with C. caespitosa has allowed us to fill a gap in the data regarding the recent tectonic movements along the Adriatic coast (Ferranti et al., 2006). This feature proves that there has been a recent subsidence event since MIS 5.5 in the coastal area of the Apulian Tavoliere plain.