Geochemical and stratigraphic indicators of late Holocene coastal evolution in the Gythio area, southern Peloponnese, Greece
Cundy, A.B., Sprague, D., Hopkinson, L., Maroukian, H., Gaki-Papanastassiou, K., Papanastassiou, D. and Frogley, M.R. (2006) Geochemical and stratigraphic indicators of late Holocene coastal evolution in the Gythio area, southern Peloponnese, Greece Marine Geology, 230 (3-4). pp. 161-177. ISSN 0025-3227
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The study of past changes in sea level, and of historical and pre-historical coastal evolution, using coastal sediment stratigraphies is well-established over a range of geographic areas, in both seismic and aseismic settings. In the eastern Mediterranean, however, such studies are less common, and, notably, the use of sediment geochemistry, and its combination with lithostratigraphic studies to analyze palaeoenvironmental and palaeo-sea-level change, has not been explored to any significant extent, despite the fact that geochemical data have been successfully used elsewhere to aid in the identification of sea-level changes. Here, we use a combined geochemical, stratigraphic and microfossil approach to reconstruct late Holocene coastal evolution and sea-level change at two sites near Gythio in the southern Peloponnese, Greece. The sites show stratigraphic and geochemical evidence of the presence in Late Helladic times (ca. 1500 BC) of barrier-protected coastal lagoonal/wetland environments, which have gradually infilled over the last ca. 3500 yr. Archaeological remains and ceramic and charcoal-bearing horizons within the sediment sequences indicate Late Roman occupation of the area, although there is no sedimentary evidence of significant pre-Roman activity at the study sites. An apparent brackish wetland peat deposit at − 3.4 m (overlain by anoxic lagoonal clays) at Kamares (Kato Vathi) Bay shows a calibrated radiocarbon age of 1640–1440 BC, suggesting a relative sea-level rise of 0.8–1 mm/yr in this area over the past 3500 yr, in good agreement with previous archaeological and sea-level modelling studies. There is no evidence, based on the stratigraphic, microfossil or geochemical record, of sudden marine flooding events related to local or regional seismic activity, despite the presence of the area in a seismically active zone known to be subject to periodic earthquakes and tsunami. The data highlight the utility of combining geochemical and stratigraphic studies in the reconstruction of coastal evolution and the study of palaeo-sea-level changes, particularly in sequences (such as those described here) where microfossils are poorly preserved.
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