Earthquake-induced turbidites triggered by sea level oscillations in the Upper Cretaceous and Paleocene of Italy

David M. Bice, Alessandro Montanari, Giovanni Rusciadelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Earthquakes are widely recognized as triggers for turbidites, submarine debris flows and slumps. In tectonically active areas, surprisingly small changes in stress can trigger seismic events, implying that past sea level changes may be important in controlling the timing of seismicity and the occurrence of turbidites. We apply this idea in an analysis of turbidites from the upper Cretaceous-Paleocene Scaglia Rossa Formation of the Umbria-Marches region of Italy. These turbidites are composed of resedimented foraminiferal tests derived from fluidizing deep-water (∼1500 m), pelagic sediments; seismic triggering is the most likely triggering mechanism given this setting and composition. The timing of these turbidites (and associated synsedimentary slumps), constrained by biostratigraphy and magnetostratigraphy, reveals an unusual, non-random temporal pattern that appears to correlate well with proposed eustatic fluctuations. This correlation between turbidites and eustatic fluctuations leads us to suggest that stress and pore fluid pressure changes associated with changing sea level may trigger periods of increased seismicity in the geological past.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-392
Number of pages6
JournalTerra Nova
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology


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