Assessment of prospective geological hazards in Torrevieja-La Mata coast (western Mediterranean) based on Pleistocene and Holocene events

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Torres, Trinidad
Ortiz, José E.
Mediavilla López, Rosa María
Sánchez-Palencia, Yolanda
Vega Panizo, Rogelio
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The coastal zone in which the lagoons of La Mata and Torrevieja (Eastern Spain) developed can be described as a compilation of geo-hazards typical of the Mediterranean realm. This study has focused mainly on those linked to recent tectonics. Extensive use of the amino acid racemization dating method allowed us to establish the evolution of all the geomorphological units differentiated in the area, the most striking manifestation being at the La Mata Lagoon Bar, where MIS 5 deposits settled on MIS 7 sediments along a marked erosive unconformity, thereby attesting coastal uplift between these two stages. In addition, recent uplift processes were reflected on stepped abrasion platforms and, in some cases, enormous boulders were transported over these platforms by extreme surge waves. Furthermore, we obtained feasible evidence that, during the end of MIS 5, an earthquake with an offshore epicenter linked to Torrevieja Fault, Bajo Segura Fault or the set of faults linked to the former, was responsible for tsunami surge deposits represented in accumulations of randomly arranged and well-preserved Glycymeris and Acanthocardia shells. Recent catastrophic effects linked to the earthquakes were also detected. In this regard, comparison of the paleontological and taphonomic analyses allowed us to discern between wave and tsunami surge deposits. Therefore, evidence of these hazards undoubtedly points to important future (and present) erosive and/or catastrophic processes, which are enhanced by the presence of tourist resorts and salt-mining industry. Thus, these sites are also threatened by future increases in sea level in the context of warmer episodes, attested by raised marine fossil deposits. At the north of Cervera Cape, beaches will be eroded, without any possibility of sediment input from the starved Segura River delta. At the south of this cape, waves (and tsunamis) will erode the soft rocks that built up the cliff, creating deep basal notches.
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