During the Holocene, the western part of the present-day Thessaloniki coastal plain (north-central Greece) was flooded by the rising sea level and formed a bay as a consequence of the last postglacial transgression. The rate of the sealevel rise subsequently decelerated, and this bay began to fill with sediments delivered by the Aliakmon and Axios, as well as by other smaller rivers.
The palaeogeographic and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of the Thessaloniki Plain was the focus of several studies published during the past century. Most of these studies are based on the interpretation of historical sources and support the assumption of a fast filling of the bay between the fifth century BC and the fifth century AD.
In this work, we first present the results of the analysis of data collected from six boreholes recently drilled in the western part of the plain, up to the western bank of the Axios River. Our study was mainly based on sedimentological and palaeontological analyses and accelerator mass spectrometry and conventional radiocarbon dating of shells and peat. Second, we evaluate the results of this study, as well as of other geological studies, which permit the description of the large-scale stratigraphic pattern of the plain. Data were evaluated on the basis of a geographic information system, used for the first time in such type of work, and were supplemented and assessed with analysis of Landsat imagery.
Based on this evidence, we propose a new, detailed palaeogeographic reconstruction for the evolution of the Thessaloniki Plain during the Late Holocene. This plain corresponded to a wide marine bay during the Neolithic times (6000 BP), and later it was characterised by a fast displacement of the shoreline, mainly during Late Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Classical–Archaic periods (2650–2300 BP). A slowing down of the progradation of the alluvial plain occurred during Roman times (2100–1600 BP), and the plain obtained its present-day topography during the second part of the 20th century.