This National Science Foundation funded project focused on the geological and ecological history of the Po River Delta in Italy (Adriatic Sea) over the last two interglacial cycles. The project builds on previous research of the Po Delta by looking at a broader geographic area over a greater amount of geologic time than had previously been done for this region.
Due to changes in sea level that took place over the last 125 thousand years, the Adriatic Sea first contracted and then expanded back. Consequently, Po Delta migrated offshore by almost 300 km and then retreated back to its current location. This project examined how these long-term changes impacted the delta by using sediment cores drilled under the Adriatic Sea to describe the internal architecture of the delta, sample marine fossils specimens, and numerically date a subset of specimens using geochemical methods. The analyses of these data allowed for testing hypotheses regarding the development of river deltas under different climate regimes and long-term responses of marine ecosystems to environmental changes.
Documenting how coastal zones responded to past climate shifts is important because coastlines are particularly sensitive to current environmental changes. In the case of Po Plain, its diverse marine life is already in decline and its agricultural wealth is under threat. The local historical cities such as Venice are at risk as well.
The findings from this project advance our understanding of stratigraphic paleobiology, paleoecology, and the importance of paleontological data for tracking recent environmental history and addressing current and future conservation problems.
The results from the project have been disseminated to communities of interest as scientific conference presentations, special conference sessions, workshops, peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals, news articles, public lectures and outreach events.
The data resulting from this project are available to researchers and the general public in multiple forms, including as curated collections here at the Florida Museum and links to the archived datasets.
The project was funded by multiple NSF grant awards 1559196