Sea Level Changes in Eastern Mediterranean during Holocene

Indicators and Human Impacts

Ed.: Eric Fouache; Kosmas Pavlopoulos

2005. 193 pages, 92 figures, 13 tables, 17x24cm, 510 g
Language: English

(Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, Supplementbände, Volume 137)

ISBN 978-3-443-21137-0, paperback, price: 69.00 €

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coasthumansea levelshorelineharbourHoloceneKüsteMenschMeeresspiegelUferHafenHolozän


Synopsis top ↑

Recent developments in coastal geomorphology, micromorphology, sedimentology, climatology, geochronology and estimations of potential global sea level changes, combined with archaeological findings, provide the basis for an approximate reconstruction of the coastal palaeo-environments.
Human activities in the littoral zone were affected by the coastal and nearshore conditions during time periods when sea level was lower than today, e.g. the ability to pass via critical straits and channels. Uncertainties concerning various factors such as eustatic sea level, vertical tectonic movements, timing of erosion and deposition, and the climatic data can lead to incorrect presumptions. Nevertheless, it is feasible to produce general models of the processes of coastal evolution during the Holocene, since thorough on-site investigations at certain regions have provided data which enable us to check, advance or even reject these models.
The objective of the workshop was to disseminate recent research on sea level fluctuations during the Holocene which have been recorded in the eastern Mediterranean region. Furthermore, the international workshop enhanced the level of professional and personal exchange between scientists of different nationalities working on sea level indicators in the broader area of the Eastern Mediterranean. The scientific topics were focused on:
- global sea level changes (eustatism, tectonism)
- sea level indicators (beachrock, notches, peat)
- human impacts (archaeology, especially the Neolithic and Classical periods).
The highlights of the workshop, including the most prominent contributions, are documented in this volume.

Review: Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie 51/3, p. 399-401 top ↑

The study of sea-level changes and shoreline dislocations during the Holocene is becoming important as population density in the coastal zone has increased and human activities were, are and will be affected by changing coastal conditions. Obviously, a prediction of future shoreline and sea-level developments needs an understanding of the processes that influence local and regional shoreline dislocations in the past, respectively during the Holocene.

In this context, this volume of the Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie presents several important results of an international workshop on Holocene sea-level changes in the Eastern Mediterranean region focusing on potential causes for local, regional and global sea-level changes, the accuracy of sea-level indicators and human impacts on local shoreline displacements, especially during the Neolithic and Classical periods. In 16 contributions scientists from Greece, Germany, England, France, Israel and Sweden present their recent results and discuss a diversity of potential causes for local and regional sea-level changes and shoreline dislocations.

D. Kelletat discusses the accuracy of sea-level indicators common on the Mediterranean coastlines and presents a generalized sea-level curve of the Younger Holocene for the Eastern Mediterranean. He states that more absolute data is needed for a reliable reconstruction of sea-level changes especially between approx. 6,000 to 2,500 BP, and that aside from this, a general agreement on the accuracy of sea-level indicators is urgently needed to check local curves on their relevance for sea-level reconstruction.

H. Brückner focuses on the Holocene shoreline displacements around the ancient harbour city of Ephesus (Western Turkey). The reconstruction of the delta progradation of the Küçük Menderes river and its tributaries in space and time resulted primarily from the sedimentological facies and faunal composition of numerous sediment cores. The detailed chronostratigraphic framework is based on radiocarbon data, ceramic findings and published archaeological and historical records.

Relative sea-level changes in Marseille’s ancient harbour (France) during the last 5,000 years are investigated by Ch.Morhange. The study uses biological sea-level indicators (barnacles, calcareous algae layers) and archaeological data for reconstructing sea level. In contrast to sea-level curves from the Eastern Mediterranean, the author postulates a regular rise in relative sea level up to about 500 years AD without any sea-level oscillations.

Based on two recent case studies from central Greece (Gulf of Atalanti) and the southeast Aegean Sea (Astypalaea), A.Cundy describes the possibilities of using coastal sedimentary records for reconstructing rapid sea-level changes (Tsunami impacts, co-seismic shoreline displacements).

E.Fouche et al. suggest a continuous sea-level rise during the Late Holocene at Mykonos, Delos and Rhenia islands (Cyclades, Greece). They used beachrock for dating with radiocarbon and as sea-level indicator. They state that beachrocks were formed in the intertidal zone, whereas D. Kelletat (see article in this volume) postulates a development in the supratidal environment.

M. Bar-Matthews and A.Ayalon use stable isotope compositions of speleothems from the Soreq Cave in the Judean Mountains (Israel) for Holocene paleoclimatic reconstructions. They describe several sharp climatic events associated with decrease in rainfall and the impact on human settlements in the Eastern Mediterranean.

D. J. Blackman discusses evidences that archaeological sites from diverse locations in the Eastern Mediterranean can provide to reconstruct sea-level changes in the past and the human reaction to these changes. The author emphasizes the productive co-operation between archaeologists and geomorphologists in understanding coastal changes.

P.A. Pirazzoli focuses on indicators of tectonic movements, especially in the eastern Mediterranean area. The author shows that features of marine erosion (tidal notches and benches) and bio-construction (reef-forming coral, vermetids and calcareous algae rims) are the most useful indicators to reconstruct tectonic movements and former sea-level changes.

The effects of four ancient major earthquakes associated with coastal uplift or subsidence on four prehistoric and Late-Roman coastal sites in Greece (Aghia Irini, Vouliagmeni Lake, Aigeira; Kisamos) are presented by S. S. Stiros. The author points out that strong earthquakes may have had disastrous effects on ancient towns and societies. This could have lead to the abandonment of settlements or to social and economic instability of societies.

N.-A. Mörner presents a detailed discussion of eustatic, tectonic and climatic components of sea-level changes with special aspects on the eastern Mediterranean. The author emphasizes that sea level within the Mediterranean region is predominantly affected by complex local or regional tectonic factors and regional eustatic changes, and he also assumes that eustatic sea level in the Eastern Mediterranean is affected by changes in precipitation and evaporation in the present as well as in the past.

Using long-term tide-gauges M. N. Tsimplis discusses the correlation between global sea level and sea-level variability in the Mediterranean Sea during the past century. The author concludes that a global sea-level trend is highly speculative and the understanding of local, regional or global sea-level variations is still unsolved.

N. Fytrolakis, A.Peterek and B. Schröder present preliminary results of geoarchaeological research on Holocene coastal changes in the western Messara plain (Crete). Based on data from drilling and field studies they show that both Agia Triada and Phaistos have been situated at the eastern end of a marine embayment in early Minoan time. The authors assume that, already during Minoan time, anthropogenic soil and bedrock erosion induced rapid progradation of river deposits. It furthermore initiated a reallocation of the Minoan harbour next to Phaistos to the Kommos area and a strong coastal retreat towards its modern position.

The Holocene formation and evolution of the northern deltaic margin of Amvrakikos Gulf (western Greece) is described in detail by S. E.Poulus, V. Kapsimalis, Ch. Tziavos, P.Pavlakis, G. Leivaditis and M. Collins. The investigation is based on lithostratigraphic analysis and radiocarbon dating of a number of sediment cores. The authors conclude that the formation of the delta is the result of sea-level rise, regional tectonism, riverine sediment supply and differential compaction rates of the sedimentary infill.

Using similar methods K. G.Vouvalidis, G. E. Syrides and K. S. Albanikis show the impact of sea-level rise on the morphology of the Thessaloniki Bay. Their assumption of a nonoscillating Holocene sea-level rise is based on only five radiocarbon dates.

E. Psomiadis, I.Parcharidis, S.Poulus, G. Stamatis, G. Migiros and A.Pavlopoulos present a reconstruction of modern coastal changes of R. Sperchios deltaic plain using remote sensing data covering the period 1945-1999. They show that significant coastline accretion occurred during the time span of 1945--1984. Due to a strong reduction of river water and sediment supply, the coastline has undergone a relatively stable period between 1984-1999.

The volume ends with a field trip guide to the broader area of Korinthos - Loutraki (Perachora) presented by H.Maroukian, E.Karymbalis and K.Pavlopolous. Main topics of the field guide are the seismicity and coastal evolution of the eastern gulf of Corinth with focus on the area of Kenchreai (former harbour of Corinth), the ancient port of Lechaeon, remains of the Diolkos at the western entrance of the modern canal of Corinth, the Perachora Peninsula with the small harbour of Heraeon and Lake Vouliagmeni.

All in all this volume offers an excellent approach to the wide field of Holocene coastal evolution and sea-level changes in the Eastern Mediterranean and to many local and regional aspects regarding the reconstruction of eustatic sea-level changes, the influences of tectonic, sedimentary and anthropogenic impacts on shoreline dislocations, the significance of sea level indicators like beachrock, notches and calcareous rims, and the dependences between coastal changes and human settlements. The authors present a great variety of methods including geomorphology and geochronology, geology and sedimentology, geoarchaeology and archaeology, remote sensing and tide-gauge records.

This volume is worth to be read not only by geomorphologists but also by (geo-) archaeologists and others, who are interested in palaeo-environmental changes in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Gerhard Schellmann, Bamberg

Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie 51/3, S. 399-401

Contents top ↑

Kelletat, D.: A Holocene sea level curve for the eastern Mediterranean from multiple
indicators (with 4 figures) 1-9
Brückner, H.: Holocene shoreline displacements and their consequences
for human societies: the example of Ephesus in western Turkey (with 4
figures) 11-22
Morhange, Ch.: Relative sea-level changes in Marseille's ancient
harbors (France) during the Late Holocene (with 2 figures) 23-28
Cundy, A.: Recent rapid sea-level change in the eastern Mediterranean
and the coastal sedimentary record (with 3 figures and 1 table) 29-35
Fouache, E., Desruelles, St., Pavlopoulos, K., Dalongeville, R.,
Coquinot, Y., Peulvast, J.-P. & Potdevin, J.-L.: Using beachrocks as
sea level indicators in the insular group of Mykonos, Delos and Rhenia
(Cyclades, Greece) (with 6 figures) 37-43
Bar-Matthews, M. & Ayalon, A.: Evidence from speleothem for abrupt
climatic changes during the Holocene and their impact on human
settlements in the Eastern Mediterranean region: Dating methods and
stable isotope systematics (with 5 figures) 45-59
Blackman, D.J.: Archaeological evidence for sea level changes. 61-70
Pirazzoli, P.A.: Marine erosion features and bioconstructions as
indicators of tectonic movements, with special attention to the
eastern Mediterranean area (with 5 figures) 71-77
Stiros, St.C.: Social and historical impacts of earthquake-related
sea-level changes on ancient (prehistoric to Roman) coastal sites
(with 7 figures) . 79-89
Mörner, N.-A.: Sea level changes and crustal movements with special
aspects on the eastern Mediterranean (with 8 figures) 91-102
Tsimplis, M.N.: Global sea level rise: a useful sea level predictor in
the Mediterranean Sea? (with 6 figures and 3 tables) 103-110
Fytrolakis, N., Peterek, A. & Schröder, B.: Initial geoarchaeologic
investigations on the Holocene coastal configuration near
Phaistos/Agia Triada (Messara Plain, central Crete, Greece) (with 9
figures) 111-123
Poulos, S.E., Kapsimalis, V., Tziavos, Ch., Pavlakis, P., Leivaditis,
G. & Collins, M.: Sea-level stands and Holocene geomorphological
evolution of the northern del- taic margin of Amvrakikos Gulf (western
Greece) (with 10 figures and 4 tables) 125-145
Vouvalidis, K.G., Syrides, G.E. & Albanakis, K.S.: Holocene morphology
of the Thessaloniki Bay: Impact of sea level rise (with 5 figures and
1 table) 147-158
Psomiadis, E., Parcharidis, I., Poulos, S., Stamatis, G., Migiros,
G. & Pavlopoulos, A.: Earth observation data in seasonal and long term
coastline changes monitoring the case of Sperchios river delta
(central Greece) (with 7 figures and 3 tables) 159-175
Maroukian, H., Karymbalis, E. & Pavlopoulos, K.: Field Trip Guide to
the broader area of Korinthos-Loutraki (Perachora) (with 11 figures
and 1 table) 177-193