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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2018-123
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2018-123
© 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).

Ionian Abyssal Plain: A window into the Tethys oceanic lithosphere

Anke Dannowski1, Heidrun Kopp1,2, Frauke Klingelhoefer3, Dirk Klaeschen1, Marc-André Gutscher4, Anne Krabbenhoeft1, David Dellong3,4, Marzia Rovere5, David Graindorge4, Cord Papenberg1, and Ingo Klaucke1 Anke Dannowski et al.
  • 1Dynamics of the Ocean Floor, GEOMAR, Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel, 24148, Germany
  • 2Department of Geosciences, Kiel University, Kiel, 24118, Germany
  • 3Géosciences Marines, Ifremer, Centre de Brest, Plouzané, 29280, France
  • 4Laboratoire Géosciences Océan, IUEM, Université Brest, CNRS, Plouzané, 29280, France
  • 5Institute of Marine Sciences National Research Council, ISMAR – CNR, Bologna, 40129, Italy

Abstract. The nature of the Ionian Sea crust has been the subject of scientific debate for more than 30 years, mainly because seismic imaging of the deep crust and upper mantle of the Ionian Abyssal Plain (IAP) has not been conclusive to date. The IAP is sandwiched between the Calabrian and Hellenic subduction zones in the central Mediterranean. To univocally confirm the proposed oceanic nature of the IAP crust as a remnant of the Tethys ocean and to confute its interpretation as a strongly thinned part of the African continental crust, a NE-SW oriented 131 km long seismic refraction and wide-angle reflection profile consisting of eight ocean bottom seismometers and hydrophones was acquired in 2014. A P-wave velocity model developed from travel time forward modelling is refined by gravimetric data and synthetic modelling of the seismic data. A roughly 6km thick crust with velocities ranging from 5.1km/s to 7.2km/s, top to bottom, can be traced throughout the IAP. In the vicinity of the Medina Seamounts at the southern IAP boundary, the crust thickens to about 9km and seismic velocities decrease to 6.8km/s at the crust-mantle boundary. The seismic velocity distribution and depth of the crust-mantle boundary in the IAP document its oceanic nature, and support the interpretation of the IAP as a remnant of the Tethys oceanic lithosphere formed during the Permian and Triassic period.

Anke Dannowski et al.
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Anke Dannowski et al.
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The nature of the Ionian Sea crust has been the subject of scientific debate for more than 30 years. Seismic data, recorded on ocean bottom instruments, have been analysed and support the interpretation of the Ionian Abyssal Plain as a remnant of the Tethys oceanic lithosphere formed roughly 220 to 250 ma. Which places the African margin much further south than previously thought.
The nature of the Ionian Sea crust has been the subject of scientific debate for more than 30...
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