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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2018-118
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2018-118
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 10 Dec 2018

Research article | 10 Dec 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Solid Earth (SE).

The Bortoluzzi Mud Volcano (Ionian Sea, Italy) and its potential for tracking the seismic cycle of active faults

Marco Cuffaro1, Andrea Billi1, Sabina Bigi2, Alessandro Bosman1, Cinzia G. Caruso3, Alessia Conti2, Andrea Corbo3, Antonio Costanza4, Giuseppe D'Anna4, Carlo Doglioni2,5, Gioacchino Fertitta4, Luca Gasperini6, Francesco Italiano3, Gianluca Lazzaro3, Marco Ligi6, Manfredi Longo3, Eleonora Martorelli1, Lorenzo Petracchini1, Patrizio Petricca2, Alina Polonia6, and Tiziana Sgroi5 Marco Cuffaro et al.
  • 1Istituto di Geologia Ambientale e Geoingegneria, CNR, Rome, Italy
  • 2Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Sapienza Universitá di Roma, Rome, Italy
  • 3Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Palermo, Italy
  • 4Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Gibilmanna, Italy
  • 5Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Rome, Italy
  • 6Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, ISMAR, Bologna, Italy

Abstract. The Ionian Sea in southern Italy is at the center of active interaction and convergence between the Eurasian and African-Adriatic plates in the Mediterranean. This area is seismically active with instrumentally/historically-recorded Mw > 7.0 earthquakes and it is affected by recently-discovered long strike-slip faults across the active Calabrian accretionary wedge. Many mud volcanoes occur on top of the wedge. A recently-discovered one (here named Bortoluzzi Mud Volcano, BMV) was surveyed during the Seismofaults 2017 cruise (May 2017). Bathymetric-backscatter surveys, seismic reflection profiles, geochemical and earthquake data as well as a gravity core are here used to geologically, geochemically, and geophysically characterize this structure. The BMV is a circular feature ≃22 m high and ≃1100 m in diameter with steep slopes (up to a dip of 22°). It sits atop the Calabrian accretionary wedge and a system of flower-like oblique-slip faults that are probably seismically active as demonstrated by earthquake hypocentral and focal data. Geochemistry of water samples from the seawater column on top of the BMV shows a significant contamination of the bottom waters from saline (evaporite-type) CH4-dominated crustal-derived fluids similar to the fluids collected from a mud volcano located in the Calabria main land over the same accretionary wedge. These results attest for the occurrence of an open crustal conduit through the BMV down to at least the Messinian evaporites at about −3000 m. This evidence is also substantiated by Helium isotope ratios and by different geochemical data from three sea water columns located elsewhere in the Ionian Sea. Conclusions are drawn on the origin of the BMV and on the potential of this type of structures for tracking the seismic cycle of active faults. Due to the widespread diffusion of mud volcanoes in seismically active settings, this study may contribute to indicate a potential and feasible future path for the use of these ubiquitous structures in favor of the mitigation of natural hazards.

Marco Cuffaro et al.
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Short summary
The Ionian Sea in southern Italy is at the center of active convergence between the Eurasian and African plates with many know Mw > 7.0 earthquakes. Here, a recently-discovered mud volcano (here named Bortoluzzi Mud Volcano, BMV) was surveyed during the Seismofaults 2017 cruise (May 2017). The BMV is the active emergence of crustal fluids probably squeezed up during the seismic cycle. As such, the BMV may be potentially used for tracking the seismic cycle of active faults.
The Ionian Sea in southern Italy is at the center of active convergence between the Eurasian and...
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