Anatomy of a mixed bioclastic–siliciclastic regressive tidal sand ridge: Facies‐based case study from the lower Pleistocene Siderno Strait, southern Italy

Sergio G. Longhitano, Valentina M. Rossi, Domenico Chiarella, Donatella Mellere, Marcello Tropeano, Robert W. Dalrymple, Ronald J. Steel, Antonio Nappi, Fabio Olita

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Sand ridges, a common feature of modern open shelves, reflect persistent currents and sediment availability under recent transgressive conditions. They represent the largest bedforms in the oceans and, as such, can yield information on long‐term oceanographic processes. However, there is a limited number of tidal sand ridges documented from the rock record, examples of regressive tidal sand ridges are scarce and studies describing ridges in straits are even more rare. This study analyses a Gelasian succession within a structurally controlled, tide‐dominated strait in the Siderno Basin, southern Italy. The strait connected two wider basins, and accumulated sediments reworked by amplified tidal (bi‐directional) currents. A series of tidal sand ridges with superimposed dunes developed close to the south‐eastern end of the strait, where bathymetry was deeper and flow expansion occurred. One of the best‐exposed tidal sand ridges, 65 m thick, crops out along a ca 2 km long cliff. Large‐scale, ESE‐prograding, seaward‐offlapping shingles contain sets of bioclastic–siliciclastic, coarse‐grained, cross‐stratified sandstones, erosionally overlying upper Pliocene shelf marls and fine‐grained sandstones. Cross‐strata show angular, tangential and sigmoidal foresets with compound architectures and a SSE migration, i.e. oblique to the main growth direction. Fossil content indicates open‐marine conditions. The succession changes abruptly across an erosion surface to non‐tidal, highly burrowed mixed siliciclastic–bioclastic fine‐grained sandstones, less than 15 m thick. Documented features reflect stages of nucleation, active accretion and abandonment of an individual sand ridge, during a complete cycle of relative sea‐level change. The ridge formed during a phase of normal regression, with accretion occurring during an initial highstand and the ensuing falling stage. During the lowstand the ridge split into several minor bodies by enhanced tidal currents. The ensuing transgression draped the moribund ridge with tabular strata, whereas final highstand shelf sedimentation reworked the top of the underlying sand body with weak currents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2293
Number of pages2333
Issue number6
Early online date5 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

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