ABSTRACT

Late Holocene (~6.5 ka) shorelines represented by tidal notches, beach deposits, wave-cut terraces and intertidal organic rims are raised from few decimetres up to 5.5 m above the present sea level in the southern part of the Calabrian Arc, southern Italy. At five localities (Capo Vaticano and Scilla in southern Calabria and Taormina, Schisò, Capo Milazzo in north-eastern Sicily), the uplifted paleo-shorelines form a distinct vertical sequence where the older shorelines rest invariably above the younger ones. Such arrangement documents the occurrence of abrupt uplift events that, within the limits imposed by existing age controls, we attribute to ancient earthquakes. A comprehensive appraisal of published studies has allowed to draw an inventory with a total of possibly sixteen earthquakes which, based on the amount of shoreline displacement (~0.5-2 m) and the length of coastal section involved in uplift, were likely to be of strong size. It appears that the amount of uplift decreased with time during the Late Holocene at all sites but Capo Vaticano, where it remained almost stationary. The co-seismic events appear grouped within four temporal clusters, during which uplift occurred at most of the five coastal sectors investigated here. These clusters spanned time intervals whose duration, although difficult to bracket with precision, is of few hundred years, and are separated by longer (~0.5-1.5 ka) periods of apparent tectonic quiescence. The sources of co-seismic uplifts are still undefined, and should be searched between normal faults in the stretched Calabrian upper crust, or lower crustal thrust faults related to the Ionian subduction.

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