Late Quaternary co-seismic sedimentation in the Sea of Marmara's deep basins

Christian Beck*, Bernard Mercier de Lépinay, Jean Luc Schneider, Michel Cremer, Namik Çaǧatay, Evrard Wendenbaum, Sébastien Boutareaud, Guillemette Ménot, Sabine Schmidt, Olivier Weber, Kadir Eris, Rolando Armijo, Bertrand Meyer, Nicolas Pondard, Marc André Gutscher, J. L. Turon, L. Labeyrie, E. Cortijo, Y. Gallet, Hélène BouquerelN. Gorur, A. Gervais, M. H. Castera, L. Londeix, A. de Rességuier, A. Jaouen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


The deep, northern, part of the Sea of Marmara (northwestern Turkey) is composed of several aligned, actively subsiding, basins, which are the direct structural and morphological expression of the North-Anatolian Fault's northern branch. The last 20 kyr of their sedimentary fill (non-marine before 12 kyr BP) have been investigated through giant piston coring onboard R/V MARION-DUFRESNE (MARMACORE Cruise, 2001) and by chirp sub-bottom profiler onboard R/V ATALANTE during MARMARASCARPS Cruise (2002). Especially during the lacustrine stage, the infilling of the deep basins (Tekirdaǧ, Central, Kumburgaz, and Çinarcic Basins; up to 1250-m depth) was dominated by turbidites (with coarse mixed siliciclastic and bioclastic basal parts), intercalated in "hemipelagic-type" fine-grained calcareous and slightly siliceous clays. Often the turbidites show strong segregation and a sharp boundary between a coarse lower part and a suspended-load upper part. In the Central Basin, 8 m of a unique sedimentary event include a 5 to 8-m thick "homogenite" well imaged on seismic profiles. The latter is interpreted as related to a major - possibly earthquake-triggered - tsunami effect, as described in the Eastern Mediterranean by Kastens and Cita [Kastens K. and Cita M.B., 1981. Tsunami-induced sediment transport in the abyssal Mediterranean Sea. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 92:845-857]. In the marine (Holocene) upper part of the sedimentary fill, repeated to-and-from structures, affecting silt or fine sand, are evidencing seiche-like effects and, thus, earthquake triggering. Detailed correlations between two deep coring sites (at 1250 m and 1200 m) indicate more than 100% over-thickening in the deepest one; this implies specific processes of distribution of terrigenous input by dense currents (high kinetic energy, seiche effects, complex reflections on steep slopes). The peculiar sedimentary fill of the Sea of Marmara's Central Basin is interpreted as a direct consequence of the strong seismic activity, (and, by extrapolation, to the whole set of deep basins). This imprint is more significant below the base of the Holocene, as environmental conditions favoured marginal accumulation (especially on the southern shelf) of large amounts of erosion products available for mass wasting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-89
Number of pages25
JournalSedimentary Geology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2007


The MARMACORE and MARMARASCARPS Cruises were performed within the framework of a French–Turkish scientific collaboration dedicated to the seismic risk in the Istanbul and Sea of Marmara region. These investigations were supported by the Turkish TUBITAK, the French INSU-CNRS, and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE). Post-cruise laboratory investigations have been funded be the various involved Laboratories associated to the C.N.R.S. MARMACORE Scientific Team is very grateful to Yvon Balut for successfull management of the giant piston corer. We acknowledge the captain of R/V MARION-DUFRESNE and the whole crew (special thanks to Jean Bart's descendants). We are grateful to J.-M. Daniel, B. Colletta, and J.-M. Mengus for the realization of X-ray scanner images in I.F.P.'s laboratory. D. Gorsline and two anonymous reviewers greatly helped to improve our manuscript.

FundersFunder number
Ministère des Affaires Etrangères


    • Cores
    • Earthquakes
    • High resolution seismic
    • Homogenites
    • Late Quaternary
    • Sea of Marmara
    • Turbidites


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