Dating recent colluvial sequences with 210Pb and 137Cs along an active fault scarp, the Eliki Fault, Gulf of Corinth, Greece
Cundy, A.B. and Stewart, I.S. (2004) Dating recent colluvial sequences with 210Pb and 137Cs along an active fault scarp, the Eliki Fault, Gulf of Corinth, Greece Tectonophysics, 386 (3-4). pp. 147-156. ISSN 0040-1951
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Reliable dating is an essential element of palaeoseismological studies, yet whilst a suite of geochronological methods can now provide late Quaternary age control it remains very difficult to date modern events (i.e., those occurring within the last 150 years). This is significant because the starting point for many palaeoseismological investigations is a modern surface-rupturing event, whose geological effects need to be disentangled in trench stratigraphies from palaeoseismic ruptures. Two dating methods which, in combination, can provide robust dating control in recently deposited sediments are the 210Pb and 137Cs dating methods. Here, we test the applicability of using 210Pb and 137Cs to date colluvial sediments exposed in three trenches excavated across an earthquake fault—the Eliki fault, Gulf of Corinth, Greece—which ruptured in an earthquake in 1861. The 210Pb and 137Cs profiles observed in these colluvial sequences are relatively erratic due to the mixed nature of the sediments, i.e., their deposition in an environment where the supply of slope sediments is driven by seasonal rainfall, causing non-uniform sediment accretion and sediment reworking. In one trench, however, 210Pb dating, corroborated by 137Cs dating, indicates that a proposed post-1861 surface colluvial unit has been deposited over the period 1950 AD–present (at a rate of ca. 9 mm/year), and overlies a significantly older unit (>120 years old). The dating control provided here by 210Pb and 137Cs dating corroborates the published interpretation of the trench stratigraphy, and refines the 14C-based estimated dates for the upper unit. At two other trenches 210Pb and 137Cs dating only provided minimum ages (based on the presence or absence of 210Pbexcess and 137Cs). Such approximate ages, however, may still useful in corroborating interpretations made using the trench stratigraphy, or, at sites which have long earthquake recurrence intervals, determining which earthquake event was responsible for a particular bed offset.
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