Italian Journal of Geosciences - Vol. 138 (2019) f.3

Tectonic controls on sedimentary system along the continental slope of the central and southeastern Tyrrhenian Sea

Fabiano Gamberi (1), Giacomo Della Valle (1), Michael Marani (1), Alessandra Mercorella (1), Salvatore Distefano (2) & Agata Di Stefano (2)
(1) Istituto di Scienze Marine, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche. Sezione di Bologna. (2) Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche, Geologiche ed Ambientali, Università di Catania. Sezione di Scienze della Terra. Corresponding author e-mail:

Volume: 138 (2019) f.3
Pages: 317-332


Continental margins are often characterised by wide slope sectors with complex topography due to seafloor deformation linked with mobile shale or salt, or local tectonics. Within the resulting slope environments, sedimentary systems can be complex and often structured in variously connected, separate intraslope basins. In this paper, we investigate how the diverse arrangement of sedimentary systems on topographically complex slopes relate to regional differences in extensional tectonic setting. Our study is carried out through the analysis of bathymetric data in the central and southeastern portion of the Tyrrhenian Sea, a back-arc basin that displays wide slope sectors, surrounding the deep Marsili and Vavilov basin plains. A “connected tortuous corridor” forms in the Latium-Campanian slope, where extensional faults are parallel to the margin. Here, tectonic structures are important in controlling the relative extent of dip and strike sectors as well as depositional and erosional segments of submarine drainage networks. Confined, margin-parallel troughs, such as the Capo d’Orlando and the Paola Basins, form respectively landward from volcanic edifices and mud remobilisation ridges. Their depositional setting is mainly the result of the relationships between the basin dip and the site of major sediment input. An unconfined trough parallel to the margin forms when its edge coincides with down-to the basin extensional faults, such as in the case of the Gioia Basin. Its axis is the site of a longitudinal slope valley that shows morphologic variations controlled by tectonic structures. Transverse troughs cutting the entire slope form when tectonic structures are perpendicular to the margin, such as in the Cilento slope. Here, the pattern of extensional faulting is the major control on the degree of connection of successive basins and the eventual development of a drainage system. Throughgoing slope valleys form in graded slope, where sedimentary packages are thick enough to heal the relief associated with tectonic structures. They have planforms, relief and erosional or depositional attitude that is controlled by slope steps connected with faults. As a general outcome, our research provide a valid framework that illustrates the range of possible architectures of sedimentary systems and of their constituents in extensional continental margins.


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