FACIES ANALYSIS, STRATIGRAPHY AND PALAEONTOLOGY (MOLLUSCS AND VERTEBRATES) IN THE UPPER PLIOCENE SANDY FLOOD-BASIN DEPOSITS OF THE UPPER VALDARNO BASIN (NORTHERN APENNINES)
The Upper Valdarno Basin, one of the most investigated Neogene–Quaternary basins of the Northern Apennines, developed during three main phases, as testified by the occurrence of three unconformity-bounded stratigraphic units (UBSUs) in the basin infill. Despite numerous studies having been carried out, biochronological, paleoecological and stratigraphical issues in the lower portion of the Montevarchi Synthem (second phase) have yet to be understood. Sandy deposits (Montecarlo Sand and Silt Unit), stratigraphically located in this portion of the Montevarchi Synthem, are the focus of this multidisciplinary study. These deposits conformably overlie sandy fluvio-eolian sediments and are, in turn, capped by fluvio-palustrine deposits through a progressive unconformity. Facies analysis suggest a sandy flood-basin environment for these deposits, characterised by variations in water discharge and flood event energy. Mollusc and fish remains, pointing to quiet or slow-moving shallow waters, have been affected by transport processes before final burial in overbank areas. Fish remains of the primary marine family Mugilids highlight a connection between the basin and the sea that was previously only supposed. Small mammal remains, referred to the rodent Mimomys polonicus, are coherent with a water-rich environment. Cyclic variations in shell content and sedimentological characteristics testify to the occurrence of short-term climatic oscillations during this warming phase. This study fits with paleomagnetic and radiometric datings and mammal biochronology, in indicating that the Montecarlo Sand and Silt Unit belongs to a time interval preceding the Reunion paleomagnetic event. The depositional evolution of the Montecarlo Unit was driven by climatic change from arid to humid conditions, related to a global increase in temperature that occurred between 2.4 and 2.2 Ma.
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