Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 33, Issue 2–3, pp 209–216 | Cite as

An indurated Pleistocene coastal barrier on the inner shelf of the Gulf of Valencia (western Mediterranean): evidence for a prolonged relative sea-level stillstand

  • Javier Alcántara-Carrió
  • Silvia Albarracín
  • Isabel Montoya Montes
  • Germán Flor-Blanco
  • Ángela Fontán Bouzas
  • Jorge Rey Salgado


The objective of this study is to document and interpret a recently discovered carbonate-cemented coastal barrier on the inner shelf of the Gulf of Valencia (western Mediterranean Sea). The coastal barrier was identified in a high-resolution digital bathymetric model based on a cartographic survey of the study area using a multibeam echosounder. Moreover, radiocarbon dating and petrographic analyses were performed on a rock sample recovered from the seabed. The data reveal the submerged coastal barrier to be approx. 1.7 km wide and 70 km long, and incised by channels of various dimensions. Aligned more or less parallel to the modern coastline, it is interpreted as corresponding to the shoreline of a former sea-level stillstand. The barrier and lagoon system became stranded above sea level in the course of a subsequent forced regression, which also caused the incision of the river courses. Age dating of the cemented rock suggests that the fossil coastal barrier most probably formed during the prolonged Tyrrhenian (Eemian) sea-level highstand, induration taking place by carbonate cementation at the contact between freshwater and seawater (beach-rock formation). The fact that the fossil barrier is today submerged below modern sea level is explained by the sustained subsidence affecting the region.


Last Glacial Maximum Wackestone Marine Isotope Stage Micritic Limestone Messinian Salinity Crisis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are indebted to all participants of the oceanographic cruise aboard the RV García del Cid (CSIC). This work is a contribution to the research projects CTM2009-09479 and ACOPLAT, also partially supported by the CTM2010-09488-E and ACOMP/2010/267 complementary projects. The Spanish Ministry of the Environment provided some of the multibeam bathymetric data processed in this study. Constructive comments by F.I. Isla, an anonymous reviewer and the editors are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Javier Alcántara-Carrió
    • 1
  • Silvia Albarracín
    • 1
  • Isabel Montoya Montes
    • 2
  • Germán Flor-Blanco
    • 3
  • Ángela Fontán Bouzas
    • 1
  • Jorge Rey Salgado
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Environmental and Marine SciencesUniversidad Católica de ValenciaValenciaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Biology and GeologyUniversidad Rey Juan CarlosMóstolesSpain
  3. 3.Department of GeologyUniversidad de OviedoOviedoSpain
  4. 4.ESGEMARMálagaSpain

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