EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Coastal carbonate systems: evolving paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental proxies to relative sea-level change

Martina Forzese1, Rosanna Maniscalco1, Ádám Nádudvari2, Dirk Nürnberg3, Fabio Speranza4, Alessandro Todrani5, Udo Zimmermann6, and Robert WH Butler7
Martina Forzese et al.
  • 1Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Catania, Catania, Italy (
  • 2Faculty of Natural Sciences, Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Silesia in Katowice, Katowice Poland
  • 3RD1 - Paleoceanography, GEOMAR – Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel Germany
  • 4Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Rome, Italy
  • 5Department of Earth Sciences of the University of Milan “La Statale”, Milan, Italy
  • 6Department of Energy Resources, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway
  • 7Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK

Ancient coastal carbonate depositional systems provide exceptional records of past changes in relative sea level– globally and locally (tectonics) – and of paleoenvironmental variations. Here we present new work on carbonate outcrops within the UNESCO Rocca di Cerere Geopark in central Sicily (Caltanissetta and Enna districts). They show superb sub-vertical cliffs made of Pleistocene packstones with clinoforms which provide a high-resolution record of relative sea-level changes that correlate with precession cycles. Regionally these successions deposited during Plio-Quaternary forced regression caused by late-orogenic uplift. However, their deposition within local thrust top basins was modulated by local uplift and tectonic tilting. Collectively these global, regional, and local processes are recorded by offlapping of successive depositional cycles. Moreover, the high-resolution photogrammetric surveys we developed, revealed that the underlying anticlines tilted the original beds of almost 20°. The packstones are derived from fauna: micro-habitat variations have been here traced by changes in sediment provenance, fossil assemblages, and preservation. The resultant stratal architectures reflect the interplay between the efficiency of this carbonate factory, the environmental conditions, the minute siliciclastic input, and the evolution of accommodation space. Bio- and magneto-stratigraphy were fundamental to date, the parasequences, while organic and inorganic chemistry, benthic foraminifera assemblages, as well as stable isotopes analyses (δ18O and δ13C) are used as environmental and climatic proxies (where possible) to reconstruct coastal dynamics (physical and biological), in relation to the tectonic history and sea-level change.
These outcrops provide analogues to interpret stratal patterns in subsurface examples where these types of strata form important aquifers – and shallow gas reservoirs.

How to cite: Forzese, M., Maniscalco, R., Nádudvari, Á., Nürnberg, D., Speranza, F., Todrani, A., Zimmermann, U., and Butler, R. W.: Coastal carbonate systems: evolving paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental proxies to relative sea-level change, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-13922,, 2023.

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