Seismogenic faults, landslides, and associated tsunamis off southern Italy - Cruise No. M86/2 - December 27, 2011 - January 17, 2012 - Cartagena (Spain) - Brindisi (Italy) (English)

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The continental margins of southern Italy are located along converging plate boundaries, which are affected by intense seismicity and volcanic activity. Most of the coastal areas experienced severe earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis in historical and/or modern times. The most prominent example is the Messina earthquake of Dec. 28, 1908 (Ms=7.3; 80,000 casualties), which was characterized by the worst tsunami Italy experienced in the historical time (~2000 casualties). It is, however, still unclear, whether this tsunami was triggered by a sudden vertical movement along a major fault during the earthquake or as a result of a giant marine slide initiated by the earthquake. The recurrence rates of major landslides and therefore the risk associated with landslides is also unknown. Based on detailed bathymetric data sets collected by Italian colleagues in the frame of the MaGIC Project (Marine Geohazards along the Italian Coast), we collected seismic data (2D and 3D) and gravity cores in three working areas (The Messina Straits, off Eastern Sicily, the Gioia Basin). A dense grid of new 2D-seismic data in the Messina Straits will allow to map fault patterns in great detail. One interesting outcome in this context is the identification of a set of normal faults striking in an EW-direction, which is almost perpendicular to the previously postulated faults. This EW-striking faults seem to be active. The area off eastern Sicily is characterized by numerous landslides and a complex deformation pattern. A 3D-seismic data set has been collected during the cruise using the so called P-cable in order to investigate these deformation patterns in detail. The new data will be the basis for a risk assessment in the working areas.