The Late Holocene evolution of the Black Sea - a critical view on the so-called Phanagorian regression

Type Article
Date 2012-07
Language English
Author(s) Fouache Eric1, 2, Kelterbaum Daniel3, Brueckner Helmut3, Lericolais GillesORCID4, Porotov Alexey5, Dikarev Vassily5
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Paris Ouest Nanterre La Def, IUF, EA GECKO 375, F-92001 Nanterre, France.
2 : Univ Paris Ouest Nanterre La Def, Lab Geog Phys, UMR 8591, F-92001 Nanterre, France.
3 : Univ Cologne, Inst Geog, D-50923 Cologne, Germany.
4 : IFREMER, Ctr Brest, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
5 : Moscow MV Lomonosov State Univ, Fac Geog, Moscow 119991, Russia.
Source Quaternary International (1040-6182) (Pergamon-elsevier Science Ltd), 2012-07 , Vol. 266 , P. 162-174
DOI 10.1016/j.quaint.2011.04.008
WOS© Times Cited 23
Abstract Throughout its geologic history, the Black Sea experienced major sea level changes accompanied by severe environmental modifications, including geomorphologic reshaping. The most spectacular changes were driven by the Quaternary glaciations and deglaciations that reflect responses to Milankovitch cycles of 100 and 20 ky periodicity. Major sea level changes were also considered for a shorter and more recent cyclicity. The concept of the Phanagorian re- and transgression cycle, supposedly with a minimum sea level stand of 5–6 m below its present position in the middle of the 1st millennium BC, was established in 1963 by Fedorov for the Black Sea region. It was based on archaeological and palaeogeographical research conducted around the ancient Greek colonies of the Cimmerian Bosporus, in particular at the name giving site of Phanagoria, where underwater prospection had revealed the presence of a large number of submerged relics of the Classical Greek era.

Analyses of sediment cores as well as 14C-dated fossil coastal bars in the western and southern parts of Taman Peninsula show that contemporary coastal bars are related to different sea levels. The dissymmetry can reach up to 6 m around 500 BC. This and more evidence from drill cores confirms that on Taman Peninsula many of the apparent sea level changes are tectonically induced. The subsidence may have been initiated by the release of gas from mud volcanoes inherited along anticline axes. Other observations around the Black Sea confirm that submerged archaeological sites correspond to areas where subsidence has taken places, while the so-called Holocene highstand – said to have been located above the present-day sea level – is associated with uplift areas (triggered by the ongoing Caucasus orogeny). Recent oceanographic research carried out in the Black Sea area shows that since the Black Sea was reconnected with the Mediterranean Sea (i.e., 7500 14C BP at the latest), both marine water bodies have been in equilibrium. This fact and arguments from archaeology, history, hydrodynamics etc. lead us to question the existence of the Phanagorian regression. It is important to note that none of the sea level curves established for the (eastern) Mediterranean shows a comparable regression/transgression cycle of several metres during the 1st millennium BC.
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