Long-term geomorphological evolution in the Abruzzo area, Central Italy: twenty years of research

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Abstract

The most recent research studies into the long-term landscape evolution of the Abruzzo area, carried out over the last twenty years at the “G. d’Annunzio” University of Chieti-Pescara, are based on an integrated approach incorporating structural geology and geomorphology and, in particular, the geomorphometry of topographic and hydrographic aspects, geological and structural-geomorphological surveys and mapping supported by morpho-stratigraphic and chronological constraints. The geomorphological analyses have allowed us to outline the main stages of geomorphological evolution and to identify the factors that have contributed to the landscape shaping of the Apennine Chain, the Adriatic Piedmont and the fluvial plains and coastal sectors, up to the Tremiti islands. In the Apennine Chain, landscape evolution — in a ridge, valley and basin system — is connected to the regional uplift, local tectonic subsidence and local base level variations, which have led to changes in the drainage systems, from exoreic to endorheic (in the intermontane basins) and then to exoreic again. In the Adriatic Piedmont, landscape shaping is connected to uplifting and eustatic sea-level fluctuations, which have induced the formation of a structure-controlled drainage system and the shaping of systems of entrenched alluvial fans and large consequent river valleys, with flights of river terraces. In the coastal Adriatic area — composed of a coastal plain-coastal slope system (northern and southern coast) and of a cliffed rocky coast (central coast, Tremiti) interrupted by river valleys — landscape shaping is the result of selective erosion due to the interaction between marine geomorphic processes and slope processes connected to Late Quaternary eustatic fluctuations.

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