Active faulting and continental slope instability in the Gulf of Patti (Tyrrhenian side of NE Sicily, Italy): a field, marine and seismological joint analysis
The Gulf of Patti and its onshore sector represent one of the most seismically active regions of the Italian Peninsula. Over the period 1984–2014, about 1800 earthquakes with small-to-moderate magnitude and a maximum hypocentral depth of 40 km occurred in this area. Historical catalogues reveal that the same area was affected by several strong earthquakes such as the Mw = 6.1 event in April 1978 and the Mw = 6.2 one in March 1786 which have caused severe damages in the surrounding localities. The main seismotectonic feature affecting this area is represented by a NNW–SSE trending right-lateral strike-slip fault system called ‘‘Aeolian–Tindari–Letojanni’’ (ATLFS) which has been interpreted as a lithospheric transfer zone extending from the Aeolian Islands to the Ionian coast of Sicily. Although the large-scale role of the ATLFS is widely accepted, several issues about its structural architecture (i.e. distribution, attitude and slip of fault segments) and the active deformation pattern are poorly constrained, particularly in the offshore. An integrated analysis of field structural geology with marine geophysical and seismological data has allowed to better understand the structural fabric of the ATLFS which, in the study area, is expressed by two major NW–SE trending, en-echelon arranged fault segments. Minor NNE–SSW oriented extensional structures mainly occur in the overlap region between major faults, forming a dilatational stepover. Most faults display evidence of active deformation and appear to control the main morphobathymetric features. This aspect, together with diffused continental slope instability, must be considered for the revaluation of the seismic and geomorphological hazard of this sector of southern Tyrrhenian Sea.
North-eastern Sicily , Gulf of Patti, Seismic profiles, Active faulting, Continental slope instability, Earthquakes