Seismic stratigraphy and structural setting of the Adventure Plateau (Sicily Channel)

D. Civile, E. Lodolo, H. Alp, Z. Ben-Avraham, A. Cova, L. Baradello, D. Accettella, M. Burca, J. Centonze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Within the central Mediterranean, the northwestern sector of the Sicily Channel is the unique area where two independent tectonic processes can be analyzed: the building of the Sicilian-Maghrebian Chain occurred in Late Miocene and the continental lithospheric rifting of the northern African margin occurred since Early Pliocene. These two geodynamic processes generated a peculiar structural style that is largely recognizable in the Adventure Plateau. This plateau is the shallowest part of the Sicily Channel, where water depths do not generally exceed 150 m. It hosts several areas of geomorphic relief, which in some cases rise up to less than 20 m beneath sea-level. A series of submarine magmatic manifestations occur in this area, mainly associated with the extensional phase which produced the rift-related depressions of Pantelleria, Malta and Linosa. Seismic-stratigraphic and structural analyses, based on a large set of multichannel seismic reflection profiles and well information acquired mostly for commercial purposes in the 1970s and 1980s, have allowed us to reconstruct the Triassic-Quaternary sedimentary succession of the Adventure Plateau and define its structural setting. A broad lithological distinction can be made between the successions ranging from Triassic to Paleogene, predominantly carbonate, and the successions ranging from Miocene to Quaternary, predominantly siliciclastic. Three main structural belts have been identified within the Adventure Plateau: (1) the northern belt, affected during Late Miocene time by ESE-verging thrusts belonging to the External Thrust System orogenic domain, which represents the lowermost structural level of the Sicilian-Maghrebian Orogen; (2) the Apenninic-Maghrebian domain of the Sicilian-Maghrebian Orogen, which occupies the northwestern sector of the Adventure Plateau, and that is overthrusted on the External Thrust System orogenic domain during the Late Miocene; (3) the extensional belt of the southwestern sector of the Adventure Plateau, affected by broad NW-trending, high-angle normal faults associated with the Early Pliocene continental rifting phase. The eastern boundary of the Adventure Plateau corresponds to a broadly N-S trending lithospheric transfer zone separating two sectors of the Sicily Channel characterized by a different tectonic evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-53
Number of pages17
JournalMarine Geophysical Researches
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Adventure Plateau
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Seismic stratigraphy
  • Sicily Channel
  • Structural setting


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