Depositional mechanism of the upper Pliocene-Pleistocene shelf-slope system of the western Malta Plateau (Sicily Channel)

Simona Todaro, Pietro Di Stefano, Attilio Sulli, Daniele Spatola, Gualtiero Basilone, Aaron Micallef

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A high resolution seismic stratigraphic study of the western edge of the Malta Plateau (central Mediterranean Sea) was conducted to reconstruct the depositional mechanisms of the shelf-slope system since the end of the Messinian salinity crisis (MSC; 5.3 Ma). The accurate interpretation of a large grid of variable-resolution seismic reflection profiles (multichannel and Sub Bottom) allows us to identify and map a Plio-Quaternary sedimentary sequence overlying the Messinian evaporites. The stratal pattern of this sequence is the result of a clinoform prograding system that constitutes the internal structure of a sedimentary shelf developed in a ramp about 2° slope with bathymetries that do not exceed 200 m. This type of shelf is a physiographic feature where the shelf edge separates littoral from bathyal realms, differing from the definition of continental shelf that implies the presence of a continent-ocean margin. The evolution of the western edge of Malta Plateau differs from adjacent sectors. Unlike to the nearby Gela Basin, where the Plio-Quaternary sedimentary sequences were affected by the thrusting of the Sicilian-Maghrebian chain until Middle Pleistocene, in the Malta Plateau the post-Messinian sedimentation was mainly controlled by subsidence and sea level fluctuations. In particular, the Malta Plateau represents a back bulge depozone where moderate fluvial sediment supply together with continuous subsidence favoured the progradation of the upper Pliocene-Pleistocene shelf-slope system at bathymetries not exceeding 200 m.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalSedimentary Geology
Publication statusPublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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