Abstract The Jaramillo subchron and the Brunhes/Matuyama transition have been identified in the pelagic Pleistocene marls located on the Calabrian side of the Messina Straits (Italy). Polarity of the characteristic magnetization has been deduced from an analysis of multicomponent magnetization. This magnetostratigraphic age determination combined with the paleobathymetry of the Quaternary marls implies uplift rates of fault bounded blocks of 0.7–1.0 m/1000 yr. A positive fold test on three sites from the “Trubi” Formation (4.3 Ma) shows a clockwise rotation of 36°. An antipodal test on Pliocene-Pleistocene micritic limestones (0.9–2.0 Ma) also indicates a rotation of 14° with the same trend. Both results suggest a rotation rate of about 9°/Ma. These results are in agreement with a tectonic mechanism involving simultaneous rotation and uplifts. A discussion of the possible mechanisms indicates that a compression phase oriented ENE-WSW could have played a dominant role.