Late glacial to Holocene sea-level changes in the Sea of Marmara: New evidence from high-resolution seismics and core studies

Kürşad Kadir Eriş, M. N. Çağatay, Sena Akçer, Luca Gasperini, Yosi Mart

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40 Citations (Scopus)


The late glacial to Holocene sedimentary record of the northern shelf of the Sea of Marmara (SoM) has been documented by detailed seismo-, chrono-, and biostratigraphic analyses using sub-bottom (Chirp) profiles and sediment cores. During MIS 3 and the main part of MIS 2 (60-15 14C ka B.P.), disconnection from the Mediterranean and Black seas together with a dry climate resulted in a regression in the SoM, when the Sea was transformed into a brackish lake. The river incisions below 105 m water depth along the northern shelf took place during the last glacial maximum, when the lake level was modulated by stillstands at -98 and -93 m. The post-glacial freshwater transgressive stage of the Marmara 'Lake' occurred between 15 and 13.5 14C ka B.P., leading to a rise in water level to -85 m by 13.0 14C ka B.P., as evidenced by broad wave-cut terraces along the northern shelf. Since 12 14C ka B.P., high-frequency sea-level fluctuations have been identified at the SoM entrance to the Strait of İstanbul (SoI). Thus, wave-cut terraces have been recorded at water depths of -76 and -71 m that, according to an age model for core MD04-2750, have ages of 11.5 and 10.5 14C ka B.P., respectively. Ancient shoreline at -65 m along the northern shelf presumably formed soon after the Younger Dryas (YD) at ca. 10.1 14C ka B.P. Moreover, there is compelling evidence of Holocene outflow from the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea. At the SoM entrance to the SoI, the existence of bioherms on the reflector surface together with abundant Brizalina spathulata and Protoglobulimina pupoides in a core suggests a return to higher salinities due to strong Mediterranean water incursion into the SoM at ~8.8 14C ka B.P. This finding is consistent with earlier suggestions that, after the YD, the Black Sea was flooded by outflow from the SoM as a result of global sea-level rise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalGeo-Marine Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


Acknowledgements We thank the officers, crew, and scientific staff of the R/V Odin Finder, Urania, MTA Sismik-1, Marion Dufresne, and Mediterranean Explorer cruises for their help in data collection at sea. The manuscript was thoroughly reviewed by an anonymous referee and Burg W. Flemming. Discussions with W. Bill Ryan, Sinan Özeren, and Ümmühan Sancar were very instructive. Support was provided by TÜBİTAK and the İstanbul Technical University EMCOL laboratories of the Geology Department.

FundersFunder number
Mount Allison University
İstanbul Technical University EMCOL


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