Temperate Mediterranean Badlands: A (pre-)Holocene or Anthropocene phenomenon?

Surface Dynamics in a Temperate Mediterranean Setting in relation to the Development of Badlands. NWO funded PhD project by Selçuk Aksay about the formation and development of badlands related to climate control, rotational extensional tectonics and human activity in Gediz catchment, near Kula (western Turkey).


The Gediz, Geren, Hudut, Bozlar, Selendi catchments and their surrounding in the Kula region, western Turkey (Fig. 1) exhibit a notable example of extensive erosion previously suggested to be influenced by climate-change in Quaternary, regional base level change and human influence (Maddy et al., 2012, 2015, van Gorp et al., 2013, 2014, 2015). Uplift driven control due to extensional tectonics (from Miocene to present day) and Gediz River terrace staircase development were also emphasised in the interpretation of surface dynamics in the Kula area in earlier work (Westaway et al., 2004; Tokçaer et al., 2005; Maddy et al., 2008) (the reader is referred to Fig. 1 to overview major tectonic structures (Bozkurt, 2001; Şengör et al., 2005; Le Pichon and Kreemer, 2010) of western Turkey). Yet, the enigmatic development of the Kula badlands has not been the centre of attention with a multidisciplinary methodology, and hence not fully understood.


Figure 1. Kula region (Turkey) with major tectonic structures (left) and Badlands area (red rectangular) with main catchments indicated with blue lines (right).

All together, the Kula region is a remarkable open space laboratory to;

  • test a multidisciplinary high-resolution four-dimensional geochronological model of badland formation;
  • examine climate, human, and tectonic control on badland development. If successful, the research may to serve as a model for future research on badlands and similar landforms evolved by intensive erosional processes.

Figure 2. a. A simplified stratigraphic column of the study area. Descriptions are given next to the column together with deformational phases and unconformities. Modified after van Gorp et al., 2013; Maddy et al., 2012; Ersoy et al., 2010. b. (right) Outcrop expressions of intensive erosion processes with; A general view of the area (upper right), and example of hoodoos (fairy chimney) (lower right) exposed in numerous places in the study area.

We propose a multidisciplinary approach, which is meant to become a benchmark for four-dimensional framework in badlands research. To be able to analyse the intensive erosional processes that lead to the development of badlands, the change in landscape should be examined with high resolution geochronology with links to:
i)climate change,
ii)land use and management,
iii)local geology and tectonics.

Research Methodology
• Geological mapping/ Facies analysis
• Geochronological dating
• Digital elevation model construction using UAV/drone aerial photography
• Dynamic landscape modelling


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  • Media appearance, 2017. Badlands project, Kula, western Turkey. URL