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Pliocene and Quaternary regional uplift in western Turkey: The Gediz River terrace staircase and the volcanism at Kula

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Darrel Maddy


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Along the upper reaches of the Gediz River in western Turkey, in the eastern part of the Aegean extensional province, the land surface has uplifted by ∼400 m since the Middle Pliocene. This uplift is revealed by progressive gorge incision, and its rate can be established because river terraces are capped by basalt flows that have been K-Ar and Ar-Ar dated. At present, the local uplift rate is ∼0.2 mm a-1. Uplift at this rate began around the start of the Middle Pleistocene, following a span of time when the uplift was much slower. This was itself preceded by an earlier uplift phase, apparently in the late Late Pliocene and early Early Pleistocene, when the uplift rate was comparable to the present. The resulting regional uplift history resembles what is observed in other regions and is analogously interpreted as the isostatic response to changing rates of surface processes linked to global environmental change. We suggest that this present phase of surface uplift, amounting so far to ∼150 m, is being caused by the nonsteady-state thermal and isostatic response of the crust to erosion, following an increase in erosion rates in the late Early Pleistocene, most likely as a result of the first large northern-hemisphere glaciation during oxygen isotope stage 22 at 870 ka. We suggest that the earlier uplift phase, responsible for the initial ∼250 m of uplift, resulted from a similar increase in erosion rates caused by the deterioration in local climate at ∼3.1 Ma. This uplift thus has no direct relationship to the crustal extension occurring in western Turkey, the rate and sense of which are thought not to have changed significantly on this time scale. Our results thus suggest that the present, often deeply incised, landscape of western Turkey has largely developed from the Middle Pleistocene onwards, for reasons not directly related to the active normal faulting that is also occurring. The local isostatic consequences of this active faulting are instead superimposed onto this "background" of regional surface uplift. Modelling of this surface uplift indicates that the effective viscosity of the lower continental crust beneath this part of Turkey is of the order of ∼1019 Pa s, similar to a recent estimate for beneath central Greece. The lower uplift rates observed in western Turkey, compared with central Greece, result from the longer typical distances of fluvial sediment transport, which cause weaker coupling by lower-crustal flow between offshore depocentres and eroding onshore regions that provide the sediment source. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rigths reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Westaway R, Pringle M, Yurtmen S, Demir T, Bridgland D, Rowbotham G, Maddy D

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Tectonophysics

Year: 2004

Volume: 391

Issue: 1-4

Pages: 121-169

Print publication date: 29/10/2004

ISSN (print): 0040-1951

ISSN (electronic):


DOI: 10.1016/j.tecto.2004.07.013