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Authors: Furlani, Stefano* 
Antonioli, Fabrizio* 
Gambin, Timmy* 
Biolchi, Sara* 
Formosa, Saviour* 
Lo Presti, Valeria* 
Mantovani, Matteo* 
Anzidei, Marco* 
Calcagnile, Lucio* 
Quarta, Gianluca* 
Title: Submerged speleothem in Malta indicates tectonic stability throughout the Holocene
Journal: The Holocene 
Series/Report no.: /28 (2018)
Issue Date: 2018
DOI: 10.1177/0959683618782613
Abstract: Submerged caves represent potential archives of speleothems with continental and marine biogenic layers. In turn, these can be used to reconstruct relative sea-level changes. This study presents new data on the tectonic behaviour of the island of Malta during the Holocene. These data were obtained from a speleothem sampled, during an underwater survey, at a depth of −14.5 m, inside a recently discovered submerged cave. Since the cave was mainly formed in a subaerial karst environment, the presence of a speleothem with serpulids growing on its continental layers permitted the reconstruction of the chronology for drowning of the cave. The radiocarbon dates obtained from the penultimate and last continental layers of the speleothem, before a serpulid encrustation, were compared with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and global positioning system (GPS) data, together with published sedimentological and archaeological data. The radiocarbon analyses provided an average age of 7.6 ka BP that perfectly aligns with the Lambeck’s model of Holocene sea level. Morevoer, long-term data agree with published archeological and sedimentological data as well as with SAR interpherometric and GPS trends on a decadal scale. We conclude that the Maltese islands were tectonically stable during the Holocene, and this tectonic behaviour still persists nowadays. On the contrary, new informations on older deposits, such as MIS5e (Maritime Isotope Stage, corresponding to 125 ka ago) were not found in the study area, confirming the lack of older Quaternary marine deposits in these islands.
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