Suitable sections for defining the base of the Ionian Stage are located in southern Italy. During Lower and Middle Pleistocene the
Ionian margin was characterized by high sedimentation rates, in response to intense differential
subsidence and massive sedimentary yield. Specifically, candidate sections are the “
Montalbano Jonico” Section (Bradanic Trough,
Basilicata Region) and the “Valle di Manche Nord” Section (
San Mauro Marchesato, Crotone Basin,
Calabria Region). In the former, a spectacular succession of marls laid in the
Apennine foredeep is exposed which, however, are unfortunately unsuitable for
magnetostratigraphic analyses. The latter, which is represented by a shallowing-upward succession that developed in an outer-shelf environment, has the bonus of a sharp biomagnetostratigraphic record, which provides tighter age control.
Besides these exposures, a number of
Ocean Drilling Program cores drilled either in the Ionian Sea (Site 964) and in the Sicily Channel-Capo Rossello area (Site 963) are available, which correlate well with the on-land sections mentioned above based on a significant number of criteria (magnetostratigraphy,
Tephrochronology). The interval corresponding to the Ionian Stage is especially well represented in Site 963, where no turbidites and/or hiatuses are recognized. Presently, the Montalbano Ionico section is possibly the main candidate for defining the
Lower - Middle Pleistocene boundary, when a reliable magnetostratigraphic record is found. The oldest known human's DNA dates to the Middle Pleistocene era.