Biosedimentary record of postglacial coastal dynamics: high-resolution sequence stratigraphy from the northern Tuscan coast (Italy)

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Integrating analysis of the benthic palaeoecological record with multivariate ordination techniques represents a powerful synergy able to provide an improved characterization of coastal depositional facies in a sequence stratigraphical perspective. Through quantitative analysis of benthic foraminifer, ostracod and mollusc associations from the postglacial succession of Core M3 (Arno coastal plain, Tuscany, Italy), and application of detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) to the mollusc sub-data set, we offer a refined picture of stratigraphical variations in faunal content from a paralic depositional setting, and reconstruct the palaeoenvironmental gradients that account for such variations. Despite distinct ecological behaviours, and taphonomic and sedimentological constraints, a strong ecological control on meio- and macrofaunal biofacies and taxa turnover is documented across the study succession. Amongst all possible mechanisms that may play a role in shaping' fossil distribution, the ecological signal driven by salinity represents the most prominent factor controlling the composition of fossil associations in the cored succession. Molluscs can even provide outstanding quantitative estimates of palaeosalinity along the sampled core. When plotted stratigraphically, the three fossil sub-data sets show consistent patterns of vertical evolution that enable prompt identification of the key surfaces for sequence stratigraphical interpretation in otherwise lithologically indistinguishable deposits. The concomitant maximum richness of species with strong marine affinity, paralleled by the highest DCA salinity estimates, allows recognition of the maximum flooding zone, dated to approximate to 7.7 cal. ka BP, within a homogeneous succession of outer lagoon clays. These clays are sandwiched between early transgressive, swamp to inner lagoon deposits and overlying prograding coastal-alluvial plain facies.


  • Alessandro Amorosi
  • Veronica Rossi
  • Daniele Scarponi
  • Stefano Claudio Vaiani
  • Anupam Ghosh
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Geology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)939-954
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch