We provide a model for the genesis of Holocene coralligenous buildups occurring in the northwestern Adriatic Sea offshore Venice at 17-24 m depth. High-resolution geophysical surveys and underwater SCUBA diving reconnaissance revealed meandering shaped morphologies underneath bio-concretionned rocky buildups. These morphologies are inferred to have been inherited from Pleistocene fluvial systems reactivated as tidal channels during the post-Last Glacial Maximum transgression, when the study area was a lagoon protected by a sandy barrier. The lithification of the sandy fossil channel-levee systems is estimated to have occurred at ca. 7 cal. ka BP, likely due to the interaction between marine and less saline fluids related to onshore freshwater discharge at sea through a sealed water-table. The carbonate-cemented sandy layers served as nucleus for subsequent coralligenous buildups growth.
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