ABSTRACT

Lucia, G.; Polyak, V.J.; Ginés, J.; Fornós, J.J.; Ginés, A.; Asmerom, Y., and Onac, B.P., 2021. Chronology of middle Pleistocene coastal karst evolution and relative sea-level changes in Mallorca. Journal of Coastal Research, 37(2), 408–420. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.

Sea-level change affects the geomorphic evolution of littoral regions in multiple ways. In carbonate coastal regions, sea-level oscillations control the type and occurrence of karst processes such as mixing corrosion, speleothem deposition, and collapse. A variety of cave deposits exist above, below, and at sea level. Among these, the vadose speleothems can provide indirect constraints on maximum sea-level boundaries, record changes from vadose to phreatic phases as littoral groundwaters flood the caves due to sea-level rise, and document different coastal speleogenetic stages. Here, new U-series ages for speleothems from three sites along the eastern coast of Mallorca (Cala Falcó, Dimoni, and Sa Ferradura) are presented and used to discuss the effects of relative sea-level oscillations upon coastal karst evolution between ∼1500 and ∼440 kyr before present. The paleo-speleothem record provides new timeframes for periods of vadose conditions allowing to place some relative sea-level constraints in the western Mediterranean, particularly for the Marine Isotope Stages 16 to 12. Periodic sea-level oscillations following glacial/interglacial cycles caused morphological changes within the paleo-caves. The sequences of collapsed karst features and vadose speleothems, coupled with geomorphological evidence and previous published sea-level records, support an interpretation for the occurrence of breakdown events during cold intervals following MIS 11, 9, and 7 sea-level high stands. Further collapses and dismantling of caves happened after MIS 5 high sea stands and throughout the Holocene.

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