International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 98, Issue 3, pp 601–625 | Cite as

Late Cenozoic surface uplift, basaltic volcanism, and incision by the River Tigris around Diyarbakır, SE Turkey

  • Rob WestawayEmail author
  • Hervé Guillou
  • Ali Seyrek
  • Tuncer Demir
  • David Bridgland
  • Stéphane Scaillet
  • Anthony Beck
Original Paper


We document the staircase of terraces of the River Tigris in the Diyarbakır area of SE Turkey, in the northern Arabian Platform, and improve control on the ages of these terrace deposits by dating of overlying basalt flows using the unspiked K–Ar technique. These fluvial terraces are formed of polymict gravel, including clasts derived from the Anatolian metamorphic terrane farther north as well as of local basalt. At least 9 Tigris terraces have been recognised so far, the highest of which, ∼200 m above present river level, marks the local transition from stacked deposition to fluvial incision, the timing of which is bounded between the mid Late Miocene and the Middle Pliocene. Our K–Ar dating indicates a hiatus in fluvial incision in the late Early Pleistocene, as basalts dated to 1.22 ± 0.02 and 1.07 ± 0.03 Ma overlie Tigris gravels at very similar levels, ∼60–70 m above the present river. The lower terraces record the subsequent entrenchment of the modern Tigris valley following an increase in incision rates in the early Middle Pleistocene, evident from the disposition of younger basalt, dated to 0.43 ± 0.02 Ma, capping fluvial gravel only ∼21–22 m above the present river level. Numerical modelling can account for the observed uplift history, as the response to coupling between surface processes and induced flow in the lower crust, with the mobile lower-crust thin (∼5–7 km thick), consistent with the known presence of a thick layer of mafic underplating at the base of the crust beneath the Arabian Platform.


Turkey Tigris Diyarbakır Pleistocene Uplift Incision 



We thank Aziz Burtan of Dicle University for logistical support and two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful and constructive comments. This study contributes to IGCP 518 “Fluvial sequences as evidence for landscape and climatic evolution in the Late Cenozoic”.

Supplementary material

531_2007_266_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (6.1 mb)
ESM (PDF 6.05 Mb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rob Westaway
    • 1
    • 6
    Email author
  • Hervé Guillou
    • 2
  • Ali Seyrek
    • 3
  • Tuncer Demir
    • 4
  • David Bridgland
    • 5
  • Stéphane Scaillet
    • 2
  • Anthony Beck
    • 5
    • 7
  1. 1.Faculty of Mathematics and ComputingThe Open UniversityNewcastle-upon-TyneUK
  2. 2.Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’EnvironnementDomaine du CNRSGif-sur-YvetteFrance
  3. 3.Department of Soil ScienceHarran UniversityŞanlıurfaTurkey
  4. 4.Department of GeographyHarran UniversityŞanlıurfaTurkey
  5. 5.Department of GeographyDurham UniversityDurhamUK
  6. 6.School of Civil Engineering and GeosciencesNewcastle UniversityNewcastle-upon-TyneUK
  7. 7.School of ComputingUniversity of Leeds LeedsUK

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