The lost Adventure Archipelago (Sicilian Channel, Mediterranean Sea): Morpho-bathymetry and Late Quaternary palaeogeographic evolution

Dario Civile, Emanuele Lodolo, Massimo Zecchin, Zvi Ben-Avraham, Luca Baradello, Daniela Accettella, Andrea Cova, Mauro Caffau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The rise in sea level following the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) radically altered pre-existing geography, pushing back the former shorelines. The effect of this eustatic change was particularly intense and dramatic in flat lands and shelves, such as the Sicilian Channel. High-resolution bathymetric maps and Chirp seismic profiles analyzed in this study show that the Sicilian Channel, now lying at depths rarely exceeding 150 m, has emerged several times during its geological history. The last emergence was during the Early Holocene, when kilometre-sized islands punctuated the north-western sector of the Sicilian Channel, the Adventure Plateau, forming a broad archipelago. Many of these islands, now located in water ranging in depth from -. 10 to - 40 m, are composed of highly deformed Neogene sedimentary rocks (Talbot, Ante-Talbot, Nereo, and Pantelleria Vecchia banks), while others represent submarine Pleistocene volcanic edifices (Galatea, Anfitrite and Tetide banks). Sedimentary cover in all of these banks is virtually absent. High-resolution seismic profiles allowed the identification of post-LGM morphological markers associated with the marine transgression, some of which are characterized by melt water-pulses, as demonstrated by the presence of specific and distinct erosional features. Combining swath bathymetric data with the seismic profiles, we have generated two palaeogeographic maps of the former Adventure Archipelago at two specific time frames: (1) at the end of the Younger Dryas stadial (11,500 yr B.P., corresponding to a former sea level of - 60 m), and (2) at the end of the melt-water pulse 1B (11,200 yr B.P., corresponding to a former sea level of - 42 m). Maps clearly show that in just 300. years the geography of the archipelago has changed dramatically, so much so that some islands have disappeared and some have decreased by more than 80% of their pre-Younger Dryas size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-47
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Volume125
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2015

Keywords

  • Adventure Archipelago
  • Early Holocene palaeogeography
  • Morpho-bathymetry
  • Post-LGM marine transgression
  • Sicilian channel

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