Preface: Long-term geomorphological evolution of central-southern Italy
Pliocene –Pleistocene geomorphological evolution of the Adriatic side of Central Italy
Abstract: This work is a significant contribution to knowledge of the Quaternary and pre-Quaternary morphogenesis of a wide sector of central Italy, from the Apennine chain to the Adriatic Sea. The goal is achieved through a careful analysis and interpretation of stratigraphic and tectonic data relating to marine and continental sediments and, mostly, through the study of relict limbs of ancient landscapes (erosional surfaces shaped by prevailing planation processes). The most important scientific datum is the definition of the time span in which the modelling of the oldest morphological element (the “summit relict surface”) occurred: it started during Messinian in the westernmost portion and after a significant phase during middle-late Pliocene, ended in the early Pleistocene. During the middle and late Pleistocene, the rapid tectonic uplift of the area and the climate fluctuations favoured the deepening of the hydrographic network and the genesis of three orders of fluvial terraces, thus completing the fundamental features of the landscape. The subsequent Holocene evolution reshaped the minor elements, but not the basic ones.
Long-term geomorphological evolution in the Abruzzo area, Central Italy: twenty years of research
Abstract: The most recent research studies into the long-term landscape evolution of the Abruzzo area, carried out over the last twenty years at the “G. d’Annunzio” University of Chieti-Pescara, are based on an integrated approach incorporating structural geology and geomorphology and, in particular, the geomorphometry of topographic and hydrographic aspects, geological and structural-geomorphological surveys and mapping supported by morpho-stratigraphic and chronological constraints.The geomorphological analyses have allowed us to outline the main stages of geomorphological evolution and to identify the factors that have contributed to the landscape shaping of the Apennine Chain, the Adriatic Piedmont and the fluvial plains and coastal sectors, up to the Tremiti islands. In the Apennine Chain, landscape evolution — in a ridge, valley and basin system — is connected to the regional uplift, local tectonic subsidence and local base level variations, which have led to changes in the drainage systems, from exoreic to endorheic (in the intermontane basins) and then to exoreic again. In the Adriatic Piedmont, landscape shaping is connected to uplifting and eustatic sea-level fluctuations, which have induced the formation of a structure-controlled drainage system and the shaping of systems of entrenched alluvial fans and large consequent river valleys, with flights of river terraces. In the coastal Adriatic area — composed of a coastal plain-coastal slope system (northern and southern coast) and of a cliffed rocky coast (central coast, Tremiti) interrupted by river valleys — landscape shaping is the result of selective erosion due to the interaction between marine geomorphic processes and slope processes connected to Late Quaternary eustatic fluctuations.
Long-term landscape evolution of the Molise sector of the central-southern Apennines, Italy
Abstract: This paper concerns the reconstruction of the main stages of the long-term landscape evolution of the Molise portion of the central-southern Apennines along a transect divided into three sectors (SW, Central and NE). Analysis mainly focused on geomorphological, stratigraphical and structural data supported by chronological constraints, coming from an overall review of past literature and several studies carried out by the authors of the paper during the last 20 years. The results obtained allowed the elaboration of a conceptual model of the long-term evolution of the Molise sector of the central-southern Apennines. Starting from the Pliocene, the emersion of the Molise area occurred gradually from SW to NE, allowing a polycyclic landscape to evolve under the major controls first of compression then transtensional to extensional tectonics as well as climatic variations. Principal markers of the Quaternary geomorphological evolution of the Molise area are represented by the infill successions of the intermontane tectonic depressions located in its internal, SW sector and by four orders of palaeosurfaces that developed between the Early Pleistocene and the beginning of the Late Pleistocene across the region. These markers testify to the alternation of phases of substantial tectonic stability and uplift whose spatial-temporal distribution could be assessed along the investigated transect. Results highlight that the most important stages of landscape evolution occurred during the Early and Middle Pleistocene. At the beginning of the Late Pleistocene, the Molise sector of the Apennine chain had already reached its present setting and further landscape evolution occurred under the major control of climate and land-use.
Quaternary evolution of the Southern Apennines coastal plains: a review
Abstract: The Quaternary evolution of the main coastal basins located along the southwestern margin of the Southern Apennines has been reconstructed by integrating the huge amount of existing stratigraphical and geomorphological data. The information produced in the last twenty years has shed new light on the recent (late Middle Pleistocene to Present) history of the Campanian and Sele plains or basins. During the early Quaternary, the analysed coastal basins originated as half-grabens in response to opening processes active since the late Tortonian in the southern Tyrrhenian back-arc basin. In some of these basins (e.g. the Campanian Plain), volcanism has also played an important role. In the inner sectors of the coastal basins, the complex interplay between block faulting, sedimentary inputs and glacioeustatic fluctuations gave rise to relative sea-level change and related coastline migrations, leading to the formation of the present-day coastal plains. In the Sele Plain basin, the construction of the present-day landscape mainly resulted from the substantial ceasing of subsidence in the final part of the Middle Pleistocene. Conversely, a strong contribution to the recent evolution of the Campanian Plain has been provided by abundant volcaniclastic aggradation, able to hinder the effect of the vertical motions that occurred in the last 100 ka.
Long-term geomorphological evolution of the axial zone of the Campania-Lucania Apennine, southern Italy: a review
Abstract: Uplift and erosion rates have been calculated for a large sector of the Campania-Lucania Apennine and Calabrian arc, Italy, using both geomorphological observations (elevations, ages and arrangement of depositional and erosional land surfaces and other morphotectonic markers) and stratigraphical and structural data (sea-level related facies, base levels, fault kinematics, and fault offset estimations). The values of the Quaternary uplift rates of the southern Apennines vary from 0.2 mm/yr to about 1.2–1.3 mm/yr. The erosion rates from key-areas of the southern Apennines, obtained from both quantitative geomorphic analysis and missing volumes calculations, has been estimated at 0.2 mm/yr since the Middle Pleistocene. Since the Late Pleistocene erosion and uplift rates match well, the axial-zone landscape could have reached a flux steady state during that time, although it is more probable that the entire study area may be a transient landscape. Tectonic denudation phenomena — leading to the exhumation of the Mesozoic core of the chain — followed by an impressive regional planation started in the Late Pliocene have to be taken into account for a coherent explanation of the morphological evolution of southern Italy.
The Crati River Basin: geomorphological and stratigraphical data for the Plio–Quaternary evolution of northern Calabria, South Apennines, Italy
Abstract: In this paper, we present the results of an integrated geomorphological and stratigraphical study carried out in the eastern side of the Crati River valley (northern Calabria, South Italy). This area is characterized by the occurrence of three order palaeosurfaces that, along with low-sloping palaeovalleys and structural landforms, are striking features of the landscape. The relationships between morpho-tectonic and sedimentary evolution of the Crati Basin has been assessed through sandstone detrital modes, morphostratigraphy and geomorphological correlation with adjacent areas. The two main unconformity surfaces that typify the Quaternary fill were correlated to different steps of landscape evolution. The presence of both erosional and depositional palaeosurfaces has been a useful marker for reconstructing sedimentary and morphogenetic events, and hence to detect drainage network evolution and changes in source sediment area. In particular, we recognized that the study area experienced, during the late Pliocene–Early Pleistocene a period of subaerial landscape modelling as suggested by low-sloping palaeovalleys and related fluvial deposits (1st Order Palaeosurface). At that time, the source of the detrital constituents of the PPS Unit sandstones was mainly from the Sila Massif. The onset of Coastal Range identification and uplift (Early Pleistocene) marks a change in the geomorphic scenario with tectonic driven stream incision and valley development along the eastern side of Coastal Range, along with the occurrence of depositional and erosional landsurfaces (2nd Order Palaeosurface) at footslopes. During this period, the Coastal Range and Sila Massif were the sources for the detrital constituents of the PlS Unit sandstones. The progressive uplift of Coastal Range during late Early Pleistocene and the marked backstepping of the depositional systems along the Sila footslope was accompanied by alternating phases of down-cutting and base-level stability resulting in the development of a step-like distributed 3rd Order Palaeosurface. The presence of dolostone in detrital modes is clear evidence of stream piracy phenomena of ancient palaeovalleys by the Crati valley-facing drainage network.
Geomorphological evolution of western Sicily, Italy
Abstract: This paper proposes a morphoevolutionary model for western Sicily. Sicily is a chain–foredeep–foreland system still being built, with tectonic activity involving uplift which tends to create new relief. To reconstruct the morphoevolutionary model, geological, and geomorphological studies were done on the basis of field survey and aerial photographic interpretation. The collected data show large areas characterized by specific geological, geomorphological, and topographical settings with rocks, landforms, and landscapes progressively older from south to north Sicily. The achieved results display: (1) gradual emersion of new areas due to uplift, its interaction with the Quaternary glacio-eustatic oscillations of the sea level, and the following production of a flight of stair-steps of uplifted marine terraces in southern Sicily, which migrates progressively upward and inwards; in response to the uplift (2) triggering of down-cutting processes that gradually dismantle the oldest terraces; (3) competition between uplift and down-cutting processes, which is responsible for the genesis of river valleys and isolated rounded hills in central Sicily; (4) continuous deepening over time that results in the exhumation of older and more resistant rocks in northern Sicily, where the higher heights of Sicily are realized and the older forms are retained; (5) extensional tectonic event in the northern end of Sicily, that produces the collapse of large blocks drowned in the Tyrrhenian Sea and sealed by coastal-marine deposits during the Calabrian stage; (6) trigger of uplift again in the previously subsiding blocks and its interaction with coastal processes and sea level fluctuations, which produce successions of marine terraces during the Middle–Upper Pleistocene stages.