Active fissuring and faulting in Quaternary travertines at Pamukkale, western Turkey

Altunel E., Hancock P.

Zeitschrift fur Geomorphologie, Supplementband, vol.94, pp.285-302, 1993 (Scopus) identifier


The actively accumulating travertines at Pamukkale (Cotton Castle), near the eastern margin of the Aegean extensional province, are one of Turkey's most famous tourist sights. The travertines, which have been deposited more or less continuously since at least 400 000 years ago, and have partially overwhelmed the Roman city of Hierapolis, originate from hot waters that emerge at 35-56°C from open fissures, and at least one fault zone. Three morphological varieties of travertine mass are of structural significance: 1) range-front travertines cementing alluvial-fan and -cone sediments, 2) "perched' channels of wall-like form that are self-built as a result of man channelling water flow, and 3) fissure-ridge travertines that are cut by fissures roughly following ridge crests. Although range-front travertines, provisionally dated by the Th/U series method as about 66 000 years old, are no longer accumulating, they and adjacent metamorphic bedrocks are cut by a fresh fault scarp, possibly formed during the 60 A.D. earthquake that destroyed Hierapolis. We attribute the deposition of about 10 km2 of travertines at Pamukkale, and their absence elsewhere along the Menderes and Gediz grabens, to the presence beneath Pamukkale of carbonate bedrocks and an anastomosing network of fissures intersecting at numerous nodes that provide water-escape conduits. -from Authors