Sea level change and vertical land movements since the last two millennia along the coasts of southwestern Turkey and Israel

M. Anzidei*, F. Antonioli, A. Benini, K. Lambeck, D. Sivan, E. Serpelloni, P. Stocchi

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    85 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper provides new relative sea level data inferred from coastal archaeological sites located along the Turkish coasts of the Gulf of Fethye (8 sites), and Israel, between Akziv and Caesarea (5 sites). The structures selected are those that, for effective functioning, can be accurately related to sea level at the time of their construction. Thus their positions with respect to present sea level provide a measure of the relative sea level change since their time of construction. Useful information was obtained from the investigated sites spanning an age range of ~2.3-~1.6 ka BP. The inferred changes in relative sea level for the two areas are distinctly different, from a rise of 2.41 to 4.50 m in Turkey and from 0 to 0.18 m in Israel. Sea level change is the combination of several processes, including vertical tectonics, glacio-hydro-isostatic signals associated with the last glacial cycle, and changes in ocean volume. For the Israel section, the present elevations of the MIS-5.5 Tyrrhenian terraces occur at a few meters above present sea level and vertical tectonic displacements are small. Data from GPS and tide gauge measurements also indicate that any recent vertical movements are small. The MIS-5.5 shorelines are absent from the investigated section of the Turkish coast, consistent with crustal subsidence associated with the Hellenic Arc. The isostatic signals for the Israel section of the coast are also small (ranging from -0.11 mm/yr to 0.14 mm/yr, depending on site and earth model) and the observed (eustatic) average sea level change, corrected for this contribution, is a rise of 13.5 ± 2.6 cm during the past ~2 ka. This is attributed to the time-integrated contribution to sea level from a combination of thermal expansion and other increases in ocean volume. The observed sea levels from the Turkish sites, in contrast, indicate a much greater rise of up to 2.2 mm/yr since 2.3 ka BP occurring in a wide area between Knidos and Kekova. The isostatic signal here is also one of a rising sea level (of up to ~1 mm/yr and site and earth-model dependent) and the corrected tectonic rate of land subsidence is ~1.48 mm/yr. This is the primary cause of dramatic relative sea level rise for this part of the coast.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)13-20
    Number of pages8
    JournalQuaternary International
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2011


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