Morphology and Late Pleistocene–Holocene sedimentation of the Strait of Istanbul (Bosphorus): a review

Çagătay M. N., Erişand K. K., Erdem Z.

Geological Society Special Publication, vol.523, no.1, pp.213-228, 2023 (Scopus) identifier


The Bosphorus (Istanbul) Strait is a natural strait that connects the Black Sea with the Aegean Sea via the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles Strait. It is a 31 km-long and 3.5 km-wide winding channel, with an irregular bottom morphology. It has depressions up to 110 m deep, and two sills with depths of 35 and 58 m in the south and north, respectively. Presently, a two-layer water exchange exists through the strait, with the Mediterranean and Black Sea waters forming the lower and upper layers, respectively. The Bosphorus channel extends as shelf valleys on the Black Sea and Sea of Marmara shelves. However, it operated as a river valley or an estuary during the stadial lowstand periods. The infill sedimentary succession of the Bosphorus channel is up to 100 m thick above the Paleozoic–Cre-taceous basement with an irregular topography. The oldest sediments are sandy to muddy fluvial–lacustrine facies of late Pleistocene age, which are preserved only in up to 160 m-deep scoured depressions of the base-ment. They are overlain by mid–late Holocene estuarine–marine shelly sandy to muddy sediments with patches of bioherms and shelly lag deposits. The Bosphorus outlet areas of the Black Sea and Sea of Marmara are characterized by a submarine fan and a shelf valley, respectively. The fan system in the Black Sea started depositing c. 900 years after the initial vigorous marine water incursion at c. 8.414 C ka BP. On the Marmara shelf, extension of the Bosphorus channel is a sinuous shelf valley with a channel–levee complex that was deposited by the Black Sea outflow during 11– 1014C ka BP. Catastrophic floodings of the Sea of Marmara by torrential Black Sea outflows during the Greenland Interstadial melt-water pulses, as well as the strong Mediterranean current towards the Black Sea during the interglacial periods, were responsible for carving out the Bosphorus channel and the shelf valleys, as well as removing the sediments belonging to the earlier periods.