Studies of modern submarine systems can provide insights into depositional processes, geometries and scales of various architectural elements, as well as lateral facies relationships that are difficult to identify in outcrop. The Tyrrhenian Sea to the north of Sicily (Italy) is an extensional back-arc basin generated due to the subduction of the oceanic lithosphere of the African plate beneath the European plate during the Neogene and Quaternary. Deep-water processes of sediment transport and deposition are active at the present day. In the intraslope Gioia Basin, which is in the southern part of the Tyrrhenian Sea, several slope channels and their associated overbank environments as well as mass transport deposits, lobes and splays can be observed. Our research has focused on three different slope channels and their overbank areas that are in close proximity to one another.
We work in close collaboration with Fabiano Gamberi at CNR-ISMAR in Bologna who has been working on this area for almost 20 years. In 2013 we undertook a joint research cruise to collect sub-bottom profiles (CHIRP) and detailed multi-beam surveys to complement the already existing data, and numerous sediment cores from the overbank areas of the channels. Fabiano provides extensive reviews of modern deepwater systems.