Sea level change in Western-Central Mediterranean since 300 Kyr: comparing global sea level curves with observed data


In this study, we used published sea level markers to provide a review of observational data for the Western-Central Mediterranean during the last 300 kyr. For the last interglacial (MIS 5.5, 125 kyr BP) and Holocene (10 kyr cal BP) periods, hundreds of data have been observed, measured, and dated using 14C, U/Th, amino acid racemization (AAR), and electron spin resonance (ESR) methods. The maximum highstand for a MIS 5.5 sea level is normally set at 7±2 m. This altitude remains a key value for the Mediterranean Sea and is often used to establish the neotectonic stability of coastal areas or to uplift/downlift rates in a tectonically active coast. Information on MIS 9 is available only from cores or terraces in tectonically active coastal areas. Knowledge on MIS 7 was recently improved by papers reporting precise sea level data from submerged speleothems in a stable coastal area: the Argentarola cave (Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy). These data (highstand duration and sea level) agree with global eustatic sea level curves. On the contrary, few observed data are available for MIS 3, 5.1, and 5.3. Moreover, most of these data disagree with global sea level curves. Only one recorded and dated observational datum for MIS 2 was published for the Late Glacial Maximum (LGM) lowstand (-129.5 m in Sicily). This datum agrees with global sea level curves and predicted sea level data from glacio-hydro-isostatic models. With regard to the Holocene period, it can be assumed that sea level changes along the Mediterranean coasts are the sum of eustatic, glacio-hydro-isostatic, and tectonic factors. The first is only time dependent, while the latter two also vary with location, which means that at the same time slices the sea level (the sum of three different movements) may be different in different coastlines.
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