Abstract

The Pleistocene development of the Vasilikos River exemplifies the interaction of focused, tectonically induced surface uplift and climate-influenced changes. The resulting sediments are well exposed in Vasilikos Quarry and in the main river catchment further east. An important erosional surface incises the highest-level (oldest) fluvial conglomerates, down into Late Pliocene – Early Pleistocene open-marine mudrocks (Nicosia Formation), allowing integration with the circum-Cyprus sedimentary–geomorphic development (F1–F4 stages). To determine where the quarry deposits lie in relation to the Vasilikos river catchment, the fluvial deposits were mapped and valley profiles were constructed, revealing four main episodes, each associated with incision and distinctive fluvial deposition. Source lithology strongly influenced channel morphology, infill and adjacent slope-sediment (colluvium) composition. Palaeosols, particularly red-brown terra rossa, developed on abandoned fluvial terraces and adjacent hillslopes, especially overlying F3 surfaces. The combined evidence allows close correlation of the Vasilikos river and quarry deposits. Relatively coarse (chalky conglomerate/breccia) and fine-grained colluvium (calcareous silt – Cyprus harvara) developed especially on lower hillslopes following incision (mainly above F2 and F3 surfaces). Based on regional comparisons, overall sediment aggregation ended during the Early Pleistocene. The F1–F2 surfaces and deposits are inferred to be Middle Pleistocene, the F3 ones later Middle Pleistocene and the F4 ones near the Middle–Late Pleistocene boundary. Geomorphology and deposition were tectonically forced during strong, focused Early–Middle Pleistocene surface uplift. Coarse clastic ruff-off and palaeosol development (terra rossa) and related sediment aggradation are inferred to have increased during warm, humid periods. Late Pleistocene geomorphology and deposition were more influenced by climatic change, with semi-perennial streamflow, rapid sediment aggradation and palaeosol (terra rossa) development during warm, humid periods (interglacials). Cooler (glacial) periods enhanced fluvial-incision, sediment-bypassing and hillslope colluvial processes (e.g. frost shattering, downslope creep and mass flow) when sediment transport (bypassing) exceeded sediment supply. Neotectonic faulting affected the catchment but did not greatly affect geomorphology or sediment supply. Although climate / climate change (and eustatic sea-level change) had an important influence, tectonics is interpreted as the fundamental driver of geomorphological development and fluvial sedimentation, with implications for other areas, regionally to globally.

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