The 350-m-thick succession of the Po River lowstand wedge (Italy) associated with the Last Glacial Maximum (deposited over ∼17 k.y) contains stratal architecture at a physical scale commonly attributed to much longer time scales, with complex, systematically varying internal clinothem characteristics. This study investigated clinothem stacking patterns and controls through the integration of seismic reflection data with sediment attributes, micropaleontology, regional climate, eustacy, and high-resolution age control possible only in Quaternary sequences. Three clinothem types are differentiated based on topset geometry, shelf-edge and onlap-point trajectory, internal seismic facies, and interpreted bottomset deposits: type A has moderate topset aggradation, ascending shelf-edge trajectory, and mass-transport bottomset deposits; type B has eroded topset, descending shelf-edge trajectory, and bottomset distributary channel-lobe complexes; and type C has maximal topset aggradation, ascending shelf-edge trajectory, and concordant bottomsets. Type A and C clinothems exhibit reduced sediment bypass and delivery to the basin, whereas type B clinothems are associated with short intervals of increased sediment export from the shelf to deeper water. Clinothems individually span a range of 0.4–4.7 k.y., contemporaneous with significant eustatic and climate changes, but their stacking patterns resemble those found in ancient successions and ascribed to significantly longer durations, indicating that (1) the response time of ancient continental margin–scale systems to high-frequency variations in accommodation and sediment supply could be as short as centuries, (2) even millennial- to centennial-scale stratal units can record substantial influence of allogenic controls, and (3) sandy deposits can be compartmentalized even in a short-duration lowstand systems tract.
Pellegrini, C., Maselli, V., Gamberi, F., Asioli, A., Bohacs, K. M., Drexler, T. M., & Trincardi, F. (2017). How to make a 350-m-thick lowstand systems tract in 17,000 years: The Late Pleistocene Po River (Italy) lowstand wedge. Geology, 45(4), 327-330. https://doi.org/10.1130/G38848.1