International Geological Journal - Official Journal of the Carpathian-Balkan Geological Association

Long- to short-term denudation rates in the southern Apennines: geomorphological markers and chronological constraints

Published: Feb 2011

Pages: 27 - 41



Abstract: Age constraints of geomorphological markers and consequent estimates of long- to short-term denudation rates from southern Italy are given here. Geomorphic analysis of the valley of the Tanagro River combined with apatite fission track data and radiometric dating provided useful information on the ages and evolution of some significant morphotectonic markers such as regional planated landscapes, erosional land surfaces and fluvial terraces. Reconstruction of paleotopography and estimation of the eroded volumes were perfomed starting from the plano-altimetric distribution of several orders of erosional land surfaces surveyed in the study area. Additional data about denudation rates related to the recent and/or active geomorphological system have been obtained by estimating the amount of suspended sediment yield at the outlet of some catchments using empirical relationships based on the hierarchical arrangement of the drainage network. Denudation rates obtained through these methods have been compared with the sedimentation rates calculated for two adjacent basins (the Pantano di San Gregorio and the Vallo di Diano), on the basis of published tephro-chronological constraints. These rates have also been compared with those calculated for the historical sediment accumulation in a small catchment located to the north of the study area, with long-term exhumation data from thermochronometry, and with uplift rates from the study area. Long- and short-term denudation rates are included between 0.1 and 0.2 mm/yr, in good agreement with regional data and long-term sedimentation rates from the Vallo di Diano and the Pantano di San Gregorio Magno basins. On the other hand, higher values of exhumation rates from thermochronometry suggest the existence of past erosional processes faster than the recent and present-day exogenic dismantling. Finally, the comparison between uplift and denudation rates indicates that the fluvial erosion did not match the tectonic uplift during the Quaternary in this sector of the chain. The axial zone of the southern Apennines should therefore be regarded as a landscape in conditions of geomorphological disequilibrium.

Keywords: southern Italy, landscape evolution, morphotectonics, drainage network, denudation rates

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Volume 62 no. 1 / February 2011

Volume 62 no. 1