Submarine geomorphology


Submarine geomorphology
Co-organized by OS4/SSP3, co-sponsored by IAG
Convener: Aaron Micallef | Co-conveners: Sebastian Krastel, Alessandra Savini
vPICO presentations
| Thu, 29 Apr, 11:00–12:30 (CEST)

vPICO presentations: Thu, 29 Apr

Chairpersons: Aaron Micallef, Sebastian Krastel, Alessandra Savini
Monica Giona Bucci, Aaron Micallef, Morelia Urlaub, and Joshu Mountjoy

Subaqueous spreading is a widespread type of mass movement, which involves extensional displacement along a gliding plane and the deformation of the failing layer into a sequence of ridges and troughs. Spreading has been poorly investigated, nonetheless it poses hazard to offshore infrastructures. SubSpread is a new project that will investigate the mechanics of the spreading failure and its geological controls in the subaqueous environment. The first objective of SubSpread is to identify the topographic and sedimentary signature of subaqueous environment. We have compiled a global database of subaqueous and subaerial spreads that includes information on physiography, geomorphology, sedimentology and geotechnical properties, where available. A preliminary analysis of the database reveals that spreading morphologies occur on both passive and active margins, especially in the headwall area of translational retrogressive slides. Potential causes of spreading include seismic loading (also glacially induced), sediment loading, and increased pore pressure generated by migration of fluid or gas. The latter may induce loss of shear strength and the formation of a weak layer, particularly in gentle open slopes. Information compiled in this database will also be used to develop a numerical model that can better understand the mechanics and rheological aspects of submarine spreading, focusing on the role played by pore pressure generation. The Tuaheni slide complex in the Hikurangi Margin of New Zealand is being used as a case-study in view of the wealth of geophysical and sedimentological data that are available. The final part of the SubSpread project will test whether the morphometric and sedimentological signature of spreading can provide information on past seismicity. In this case, the test site will be Lake Tekapo in the South Island of New Zealand.

How to cite: Giona Bucci, M., Micallef, A., Urlaub, M., and Mountjoy, J.: SubSpread: An integrated approach to understand the signature, mechanics and controls of subaqueous spreading, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13520,, 2021.

Ana Novak, Sašo Poglajen, and Marko Vrabec

Bathymetric data is commonly visualized as a simple shaded relief, where features oriented parallel to the light source are prone to false topographic perception or are even obscured to the viewer. On the other hand, many relief visualisation techniques developed in past decades are extensively used in visualisation and analysis of high-resolution digital elevation models, especially in geomorphological and archaeological studies. We tested and assessed the suitability of relief visualisation techniques provided by the Relief Visualisation Toolbox (RVT) software for representation of bathymetric data. We used a multibeam-sonar derived bathymetric model with a 10 x 10 m cell size from the Gulf of Trieste (northern Adriatic) characterised by a shallow low-relief seabed. Our results clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of relief visualisation techniques for exposing subtle relief variation in bathymetric data. We find that small-scale features (outcrops, wrecks, pockmarks, reefs, etc.) and negative linear features are best highlighted by “visualization for archaeological topography” (VAT) and “openness” techniques. High-relief features and topographic infection points are pronounced by “hillshade from multiple directions” and “sky-view factor” (SVF). Finally, “principal components analysis” (PCA), “prismatic openness”, “simple local relief model”, “anisotropic SVF” and “local dominance” algorithms show best results when we want to highlight both high- and low-relief features in one image. The tested techniques are far superior to a simple hillshade visualisation especially when imaging low-gradient relief (common on continental shelves and abyssal plains) where topographic details are often not adequately pronounced by hillshading. To our knowledge, this study represents the first attempt to test and compare several relief visualisation techniques for bathymetric data.  

How to cite: Novak, A., Poglajen, S., and Vrabec, M.: Enhancing subtle seafloor relief variation: relief visualisation techniques for bathymetric data, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13105,, 2021.

Nikita Dubinya, Victor Nachev, and Tikhotskii Sergey

The work presents the results of applying SIMULIA Abaqus's capabilities to solve problems related to infrastructure development in the development of oil and gas fields on the continental shelf. The primary attention is paid to the stability of the load-bearing structures of infrastructure facilities. When developing oil and gas fields located in the continental shelf, several geomechanical problems not typical for onshore fields arise. First of all, there is a need to construct a detailed model of the mechanical properties of the upper layers of bottom sediments in conditions of limited data on these properties. This limitation of data is caused by the complexity and cost of engineering drilling, which in other conditions provides the necessary information regarding the properties of the upper layers of sediments. Current study describes the proposed set of methods for studying the mechanical properties of the upper layers of bottom sediments using sampling. It is shown that the process of bottom sampling itself makes it possible to estimate the mechanical properties of bottom sediments. Quantitatively, such estimations can be made based on a numerical solution of the contact problem of gravity corer indentation into visco-elastoplastic medium, the specific rheological properties of which are a priori unknown. The possibility of determining the possible values of these properties from the data obtained in the sampling process (the dependence of the acceleration of the contact point on time) is demonstrated in the study with solution of the inverse problem.

How to cite: Dubinya, N., Nachev, V., and Sergey, T.: Numerical Modeling of Sampling Seafloor Sediments to Study Their Rheological Properties, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15812,, 2021.

Shubhangi Gupta and Aaron micallef

Groundwater is an important geomorphic agent, and its interactions with land and surface-water play a critical role in driving landscape evolution through highly coupled and complex processes such as internal erosion, surface erosion, slope failure and debris flows.

From a modelling point of view, a common approach has been to tackle the hydrologic and geomorphic processes separately. To date, the multi-domain and multi-physics interactions across the groundwater – surface-water interfaces remain poorly conceptualized. Furthermore, the groundwater models are typically highly simplified; the effects of thermal fluxes, diagenetic processes, multi-phase transport and phase transitions, density driven flows, etc. are either ignored, or introduced through lumped or reduced models without fully resolving the underlying process couplings. In sediments that are susceptible to chemical weathering, like carbonate rocks, there are almost no known and validated models that can handle evolving pore geometry due to carbonate dissolution in conjunction with internal erosion. Moreover, the saturated and unsaturated groundwater, surface-water, seafloor, and subaerial terrain constitute multiple distinct domains. The interactions across these domains occur at multiple length and time scales, and the landscape evolution results in changing geometries of each domain.

Due to the multi-physics, multi-scale, and multi-domain characteristics of these models, the resulting systems of equations are highly complex, nonlinear, non-standard, and computationally challenging, both in terms of numerical implementation as well as computing resources. These features not only add to the conceptual and numerical complexity, but also demand specialized and targeted solutions.

Here we present an abstract modular framework to resolve the multi-physics couplings within targeted sub-domains (i.e., 2D/3D sub-surface and1D/2D surface-water, sea-floor and subaerial terrain) and across the domain interfaces. We also introduce an algorithm to handle the changing geometries of these domains. This framework is being developed within the ERC project ‘MARCAN’ and will be used to assess the role of groundwater flow and seepage on the geomorphic evolution of continental margins.

How to cite: Gupta, S. and micallef, A.: Multi-physics, multi-domain, and multi-scale coupling concept for groundwater to surface-water interactions driving submarine landscape evolution, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14413,, 2021.

Bruna Teixeira Pandolpho, Antonio Henrique da Fontoura Klein, Isadora Dutra, Michel M. Mahiques, Adriano R. Viana, Gilmar Vital Bueno, Arthur Antonio Machado, Yuri L. Camargo, Cizia M. Hercos, Yhaohannah Lima, Antonio Fernando H. F. Filho, and Carlos E. Theodoro

A new mixed turbidite-contourite system is described in the northern Campos Basin, southeastern Brazilian margin. This system is developed in a middle slope setting and was formed through non-synchronous interaction between the turbidity current and a contour current in the same stratigraphic interval (Miocene). Different depositional cycles were accounted based on their diagnostic seismic features. Seismic attributes, seismic facies, and isochron maps were used to identify alternating cycles of downslope and alongslope processes in the study area, along with the intermediate stage with features from both processes (mixed system). Seismic units were then associated with the dominant type of current. Depositional processes resulted from alongslope current activity can be distinguished from the downslope current activity, based on the acoustic characteristics (root-mean-square (RMS) amplitude values), internal architecture, and external geometry pattern. While alongslope currents deposits consist of mainly low RMS amplitude values clinoforms with an alongslope trend; the downslope gravity deposits present high-amplitude or chaotic seismic facies, usually higher values of RMS amplitude, channel or channel-lobe features, erosive surfaces, and a basinward depositional trend. The first and oldest seismic unit (S1) was interpreted as a dominantly alongslope system, with aggrading sigmoidal clinoforms and high-frequency, low-amplitude reflections commonly associated with fine-grained sedimentary deposits, typical of a plastered drift. Basinward mass transport deposit derived from previous drift instability are often identified. Seismic unit S2 represents the intermediate stage where both gravity-driven and along-slope currents act asynchronously. It is referred to as a mixed turbidite-contourite sequence that shows high-amplitude sediment waves migrating upslope and a moat feature carved in its upslope front. The interfingering between high- and low-amplitude reflectors, distal chaotic facies, together with sediment waves and a channel moat, points to a sand-rich deposit reworked by northward-flowing contour currents. Seismic units S3 and S4 show downslope features with chaotic facies (S3) and paleochannels with coarse basal lag deposits interpreted after the high RMS amplitude values (S4). In S4, a series of long-lived submarine channels formed. The last seismic unit, S5, referred to as the second plastered drift sequence, is marked by low-amplitude clinoforms that thin basinward. Important information on the paleocurrents' direction was also made based on the final deposits display (e.g. terraces, sediment waves, paleochannels), where a northward-flowing bottom current was assumed. Research on alternating dominant processes and transitional stages or mixed depositional systems may provide a better understanding of deep-water depositional processes. Because these processes do not always fit previous depositional models that are mainly described for synchronous systems, new insights on cyclic non-synchronous mixed systems can improve our understanding of how mixed systems are organized through time and space. We can also determine which were the dominant processes that controlled the sedimentation by indicating periods where the margin was mostly submitted to sediment transfer from continent to the basin and periods where the oceanic currents prevailed by redistributing sediments along the isobaths and replacing the axis of downslope transfer conduits. Setting new models on cyclic deposits and intermediate stages can have a future economic impact on potential hydrocarbon reservoir architecture.

How to cite: Pandolpho, B. T., Klein, A. H. D. F., Dutra, I., Mahiques, M. M., Viana, A. R., Bueno, G. V., Machado, A. A., Camargo, Y. L., Hercos, C. M., Lima, Y., Filho, A. F. H. F., and Theodoro, C. E.: Sedimentary Processes on a Mixed Turbidite-Contourite System - Northern Campos Basin, SE Brazil, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3139,, 2021.

Davide Gamboa, Rachid Omira, Aldina Piedade, Pedro Terrinha, Cristina Roque, and Nevio Zitellini

Seamounts are spectacular bathymetric features common within volcanic and tectonically active continental margins. During their lifecycles, they evolve through stages of construction and destruction. Seamount chains on the Southwest Iberian Margin are prone to instability and collapse due to regionally complex tectonism with moderate to high seismicity. In this work we investigate collapse episodes during the lifecycle of the tectonic Gorringe Bank (GB), the largest submarine seamount offshore European margins, based on recurrence patterns of MTDs on the active thrust flank. Eight MTDs with relevant expression on the seismic data were analysed, four of estimated Miocene age and four on a Pliocene-Quarternary interval. Miocene MTDs are overall larger and correlate with the main uplift stages of the GB structure. Their distribution and relative timing suggest that failure-triggering earthquakes were common along the whole length of the GB. Pliocene to Quarternary MTDs tend to cluster along the northern half of the GB flank and are generally smaller. Based on our observations, we propose that the lifecycle of tectonic seamounts is marked by morphological rejuvenation episodes driven by tectonic activity between major collapse events or cycles. Tectonic-driven rejuvenation is thus key to hinder or obliterate evidence of past high-magnitude destructive events on tectonic seamount morphology.

How to cite: Gamboa, D., Omira, R., Piedade, A., Terrinha, P., Roque, C., and Zitellini, N.: Morphological rejuvenation on tectonic seamounts: insights from the Gorringe Bank, SW Iberian Margin, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12712,, 2021.

Rachid Omira, Davide Gamboa, and Pedro Terrinha

Submarine landslides are major geohazards occurring on distinct seabed domains ranging from shallow coastal areas to the deeper points of the ocean. The nature and relief of the seabed are key factors influencing the location and size of submarine landslides. Mass-failures on the continental slopes are frequent, but collapses on and along chains of oceanic seamounts and ridges can account also for a high frequency of events. Regardless of their area of occurrence, submarine landslides are a major hazard that needs to be recognised and categorised. For this purpose, numerous efforts have been made to compile databases of submarine landslides with the aim to better understand their distribution and characteristics on marine settings around the world.

This work presents the initial efforts of the MAGICLAND (Marine Geo-hazards Induced by underwater Landslides in the SW Iberian Margin) database which, based on bathymetric DEMs available through EmodNET, compiled geomorphological properties of 1552 morphological scars and submarine landslides offshore West and Southwest Portugal. These are distributed through seven morphological domains: 1) canyons incising the continental slope (232 landslide episodes); 2) continental slope (233 landslide episodes); 3) large seamounts (437 landslide episodes); 4) submarine ridges and small seamounts (263 landslide episodes); 5) Gulf of Cadiz (226 landslide episodes); 6) Gulf of Cadiz banks and channels (123 landslide episodes); and 7) Estremadura Spur (38 landslide episodes). A wealth of 43 parameters were measured or calculated, which include a subset of morphological quantifications for the evacuation and deposit sections for 347 occurrences where the latter was observed. We present the morphological data and any derived computations as measured on the 3D surface in order to increase their accuracy and mitigate the effect of slope gradient on map-based 2D analysis. The larger events were recorded on the large seamounts and the ridges domains, which also correspond to the larger recorded landslide heights (measured as the difference between minimum and maximum depths). Good correlations (coefficient of determination R2>0.8) where obtained for Area-Volume, Width-Area, and Length-Area relationships. Where evacuation and deposit sections were discernible, their area relationships present a better correlation compared to their lengths.

Further stages of the database development will involve the addition of still unmapped scars, as well as further statistical analysis and integration with available geophysical and geotechnical datasets for the areas of study. This dataset will be made available for the free use and benefit of the international marine community. Further contributions or analysis based on, and complementing the MAGICLAND database will be welcome.

This work is supported by the FCT funded project MAGICLAND - MArine Geo-hazards InduCed by underwater LANDslides in the SW Iberian Margin (Ref: PTDC/CTA-GEO/30381/2017).

How to cite: Omira, R., Gamboa, D., and Terrinha, P.: The MAGICLAND (Marine Geohazards InduCed by LANDslides) database: Early results on submarine landslide distribution and morphometrics offshore Portugal, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12602,, 2021.

Ruth Durán, Pere Puig, Araceli Muñoz, Claudio Lo Iacono, Jorge Guillén, Aaron Micallef, and Albert Palanques

The north-western Mediterranean continental margin is one of the few regions in the world where bottom trawling has been continuously practised since several decades. Among the existing trawling techniques, the one practised on this region is the "otter trawling", which has a strong impact on the seafloor morphology via scraping and ploughing, especially on muddy substrates. High-resolution multibeam bathymetry and backscatter data, side scan sonar images, sediment cores and satellite based Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data have been integrated to investigate the impact of bottom trawling on the seafloor morphology of the northern Catalan continental shelf (NW Mediterranean). Satellite-based navigation tracks from bottom trawlers operating in the study area during 6 years (2006-2011) reveal the spatial distribution of fishing grounds and the occurrence of an intense trawling effort around the 50-60 m isobaths, since trawling is banned at shallow depths. Backscatter imagery shows a narrow (120-250 m wide) and discontinuous high backscatter facies along this depth range, extending parallel to the coastline for more than 40 km from Portbou to l’Estartit. In the bathymetric data, this high backscatter region also coincides with an abrupt change in the mean seafloor gradient (from 0.8° in the inner shelf to 0.4° in the middle shelf), or locally with a narrow (50-150 m wide) slightly depressed (0.2-0.6 m deep) channeled morphology. Side-scan sonar images display high density of trawl marks generated by fishing gears in this area. Further offshore, scattered narrower trawl hauls are also observed on the middle shelf (60-90 m deep), where they can be traced across several thousands of meters. Sediment cores retrieved from the area of high backscatter and largest trawling intensity display sediment coarsening in the upper layers (0-4 cm) caused by winnowing of finer fractions. These findings demonstrate that chronic stirring, mixing and erosion of surface sediments induced by recurrent trawling persisting over the same fishing grounds can cause long-term morphological and sedimentary changes on the continental shelf seafloor.

This study has received funding from the ABIDES (Assessment of Bottom-trawling Impacts in the Deep-sea Sediments) Spanish Research Project (CTM2015-65142-R) and the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 867471. Additional funds were provided by the Generalitat de Catalunya Generalitat de Catalunya (2017 SGR-663 and -1588) and by the Spanish Research Project ABRIC (RTI2018-096434-B-I00). This work is contributing to the ICM’s ‘Center of Excellence’ Severo Ochoa (CEX2019-000928-S). The authors wish to thank the Secretaría General de Pesca and Tragsa for the 2004 Espace Project dataset.

How to cite: Durán, R., Puig, P., Muñoz, A., Lo Iacono, C., Guillén, J., Micallef, A., and Palanques, A.: Long-term seafloor morphological changes generated by bottom trawling on the northern Catalan continental shelf (NW Mediterranean), EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9713,, 2021.

Gareth Carter, Rhys Cooper, Joana Gafeira, John Howe, and David Long

Given the potentially devastating consequences of shallow submarine landslides on infrastructure and human lives, it is imperative that we understand potential slope stability issues within marine coastal regions. In Scottish waters, our lack of knowledge regarding the nature of the seabed within the fjords and coastal inlets is concerning given that these sea lochs have similar morphological features and settings to global examples (e.g. Norway) where recent slope failures have had such highly devastating results. Global examples from similar physiographic settings also demonstrate the temporal aspect of these events, highlighting that they are caused by active modern processes and therefore represent contemporary geohazards. In addition, previous studies have highlighted that there tends to be a scale bias towards the mapping and reporting of large-scale events, and there is a requirement for studies that focus on small-scale (≤1 km3) mass movements which can still have damaging consequences on seafloor and coastal (both nearshore and onshore) infrastructure.

In this study, a review of multibeam echo sounder (MBES) survey datasets from five locations around the United Kingdom northwest coast has led to the identification of a total of 14 separate submarine mass movement scars and deposits within the fjords (sea lochs) and coastal inlets of mainland Scotland, and the channels between the islands of the Inner Hebrides. In these areas, Quaternary sediment deposition was dominated by glacial and glaciomarine processes. Analysis of the morphometric parameters of each submarine mass movement has revealed that they fall into four distinct groups of subaqueous landslides; Singular Slumps, Singular Translational, Multiple Single-Type, and Complex (translational & rotational) failures. The Singular Slump Group includes discrete, individual subaqueous slumps that exhibit no evidence of modification through the merging of several scars. The Singular Translational Group comprise a single slide that displays characteristics associated with a single translational (planar) failure with no merging of multiple events. The Multiple Single-Type Group incorporates scars and deposits that displayed morphometric features consistent with the amalgamation of several failure events of the same type (e.g. debris flows or slumps). Finally, the Complex (translational & rotational) Group comprises landslides that exhibited complex styles of failures, including both translational and rotational mechanisms controlling the same slide. The submarine mass movements that comprise this dataset are then discussed in relation to global fjordic and glaciomarine nearshore settings, and slope failure trigger mechanisms associated with these environments are described with tentative links to individual submarine landslides from the database, where appropriate. It is acknowledged that additional MBES data are needed not only to expand this database but also to create a more statistically robust study. However, this initial study provides the basis for a much wider investigation of submarine mass movements and correlations between their morphometric parameters.

How to cite: Carter, G., Cooper, R., Gafeira, J., Howe, J., and Long, D.: Morphology of small-scale submarine mass movement events across the northwest United Kingdom, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15380,, 2021.

Philip Sedore, Alexandre Normandeau, and Vittorio Maselli

High-latitude fiords are susceptible to hazardous subaerial and submarine slope failures. Recent investigations have shown that past slope failures in fiords of Greenland and Alaska have generated devastating landslide induced tsunamis. Since coastal communities inhabit these high-latitude fiords, it is critical to understand the slope failure recurrence time, their distribution, potential triggers, and ability to generate tsunamis. In this study, we identified > 50 near-surface submarine landslides in Pangnirtung Fiord, eastern Baffin Island, Nunavut, using multibeam bathymetric and sub-bottom profiler data, along with sediment gravity-cores collected in 2019. Morphometric and morphological analyses, along with sedimentological analyses, were carried out on submarine landslide deposits to quantify their spatial and temporal distribution throughout the fiord and to evaluate the factors that may have triggered the slope failures.

Combining bathymetric with topographic data from unmanned aerial vehicle imagery, we found that most of these landslide deposits are relatively small (~ 0.08 km2) and are associated with outwash fans and steep fiord sidewalls. However, since most slope failure head scarps lie between the intertidal zone and ~30 m water depth, they could not be mapped, which makes it challenging to determine the triggers of the submarine slope failures. Radiocarbon dating reveals that most of these surficial landslide deposits are younger than 500 years old and that they were most likely triggered at different times. This finding highlights a high recurrence rate of slope failures within the fiord, suggesting that localised triggers are responsible for slope failures within the fiord, as opposed to widespread, seismically induced triggers which do not occur as frequently in the study area. In addition, the elongated morphology of the landslide deposits and the varying degrees of landslide deposit surface roughness supports localised point-source triggers. Since most landslides are associated with subaerial outwash fans and deltas, we suggest that triggers of these relatively frequent submarine landslides within Pangnirtung Fiord include rapid floodwater input, subaerial debris flows, and sea-ice loading during low tide.

This research shows that slope failures in a high-latitude fiord are affected by the interaction of numerous subaerial and submarine processes, leading us to speculate that a potential increase in the frequency of subaerial debris flows and river floods due to climate change may increase the recurrence of submarine landslides.

How to cite: Sedore, P., Normandeau, A., and Maselli, V.: Investigating the controls of submarine landslides and associated hazards in Pangnirtung Fiord, Eastern Baffin Island (Nunavut), EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13364,, 2021.

Håvard Stubseid, Anders Bjerga, Haflidi Haflidason, and Rolf Birger Pedersen

Volcanic eruptions are far less common along slow-spreading ridges compared to fast-spreading ridges. Consequently, knowledge of the volcanic rejuvenation along close to 1/3 of the global mid-ocean ridges is poorly constrained. To determine the temporal evolution of the rift valley of one of the slowest spreading-ridges in the world, the Mohns Ridge in the Norwegian-Greenland Sea, we have interpreted more than 3000 km of sub-bottom profiles. Sedimentation rates derived from several core locations along the ridge are used to calculate the age of the underlying volcanic crust. Here we present a framework for understanding the geological evolution of rift valleys of slow-spreading ridges using an integrated approach combining geological and geophysical data. The high-resolution dataset acquired using autonomous underwater vehicles, cover more than 50% of the 575 km long Mohns Ridge. The results unravel large variation in sediment thickness inside the central rift area, from exposed basalts to several meters of sediments, within only a few hundreds of meters. Studied sub-bottom profiles reveal active volcanism in the deepest parts of the ridge, areas thought to be inactive, surrounded by significantly older crust covered in meters of sediments. We find that all axial volcanic ridge systems (AVRs) in our area completely renewed their surface within the last 30-50 ka. Detailed volcanological investigation of the central parts of an AVR reveal at least 72 individual eruptions during the last 20 ka ranging in size from 1.2x103 m2 - 2.6 x105 m2. These estimates have been verified with visual observations and sampling using an ROV. Our estimates indicate that more than 230 eruptions are required to renew the surface of an average AVR. Based on the acquired age assessments a volcanic eruption is anticipated to occur approximately every 200 years. Volcanic renewal is a first order control on the lifetime of magmatically driven hydrothermal systems.

How to cite: Stubseid, H., Bjerga, A., Haflidason, H., and Pedersen, R. B.: Unveiling the volcanic evolution of the Mohns Ridge, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1050,, 2021.

Vladimir Anokhin, Dina Dudakova, and Mikhael Dudakov

For the last several years, the Institute of Limnology RAS has been conducting geological and geomorphological studies of the bottom of Lake Ladoga, the largest lake in Europe. Beginning in 2018, these studies began to use underwater photo and video camera, created at INOZ RAS. The use of this new research tool led to the discovery of a number of new facts of the structure of the bottom of Lake Ladoga. In particular, during the 2020 field season, the authors discovered in several areas of Lake Ladoga the existence of underwater subvertical scarps, composed of bedrocks. At the same time, the submarine towing boat stood in one place, and the camera vertically upward from depths of about 100 - 120 meters to depths of 20 - 30 meters. During this entire rise, the camera recorded the bedrock ledge with vertical and even negative angles. No traces of glacier processing were found, which indicates the Holocene age of the found scarps. In 2020, such ledges were found in 3 regions of Lake Ladoga: in a depression near the  Pitkyaranta in the northeastern part of the lake, in the Suuri-Viroluoto trench in the northern part of the lake and on the western underwater slope of Valaam Island. A mention of the possibility of the existence of such ledges (up to the first tens of meters in height) in the northern part of Lake Ladoga is found in the works of V.A. Rumyantsev and V.N. Rybakina (2012), A.V. Amantov (2014), Bolshiyanov (2018). M.A.Naumenko, who studied the underwater slope of Valaam Island, considered the maximum angle of this slope to be 60 degrees (2019). We found sub-vertical ledges up to 100 meters high. In addition, these scarps are in spatial relationship with the existing tectonic faults, confirming their significant fault component. The presence of young vertical high ledges at the bottom of Lake Ladoga indicates powerful young tectonic movements in this region.

How to cite: Anokhin, V., Dudakova, D., and Dudakov, M.: Tectonic ledges at the bottom of Lake Ladoga, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1789,, 2021.

Thore F. Sager, Morelia Urlaub, Pauline Kaminski, Galderic Lastras, Miquel Canals, and Christian Berndt

Submarine landslides are widespread phenomena on continental slopes and act as prime sediment transport processes between shallow and deep marine regions. In addition, they pose significant risk to coastal communities worldwide. Within this study, we focus on the Ana Slide, a relatively small landslide with areal extent of 4.7 km2 located at water depth between 635 – 905 m on the eastern slopes of the Eivissa Channel, western Mediterranean. Predominant sediment types are high-water content, carbonate-dominated hemipelagic deposits susceptible to high pore pressures and liquefaction. The Ana Slide is completely covered by very-high resolution bathymetric and 3D seismic data and additional legacy data, what allows us to perform detailed kinematic analysis of the landslide evolutionary development.
The Ana Slide is characterised by three landslide domains: the 1) evacuational or headwall domain, 2) translational domain, and 3) accumulational or toe domain. While the headwall domain demonstrates classic features of material evacuation and poses as the exclusive source of material within the landslide process, the translational domain is characterised by extensive in-situ remnant blocks which were unaffected during failure. Instead, landslide material from the evacuational domain moved up and over the translational domain. The toe domain exhibits extensive chaotic seismic facies with compressional ridges throughout the deposit and imprinted onto the seafloor. 
Even though the toe domain is characterised by extensive chaotic seismic facies, its volume differs significantly from the volume of the evacuated material. Thus, we conclude that the chaotic seismic facies does not represent landslide material. Instead, the in-situ sediment underwent a range of soft-sediment deformation processes. We propose two mechanisms responsible for this deformation: loading- and shearing-induced soft-sediment deformation resulting from rapid deposition of overburden material. Under consideration of the likely elevated pore pressure and liquefaction potential of deposits, these mechanisms lead to the destruction and disturbance of internal reflections.
Our analysis demonstrates the difficulties in distinguishing between actually failed landslide material and deformed but not translated sediment, which may well lead to erroneous landslide volume estimations. Our new model of the evolutionary development of the Ana Slide may well hold for many other submarine landslides globally, the volumes of which could be significantly overestimated.

How to cite: Sager, T. F., Urlaub, M., Kaminski, P., Lastras, G., Canals, M., and Berndt, C.: Evolutionary development and volume balance calculations of the Ana Slide in the Eivissa Channel, Western Mediterranean, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2118,, 2021.

Cecilia Cabrera, Ruth Durán, Pere Puig, Jorge Guillén, Araceli Muñoz, Montse Demestre, and Albert Palanques

Submarine canyons are morphological features found along continental margins that play a key role channeling and connecting sediment from continental shelves to the abyssal plains. The current morphological characterization of the Blanes and Cap de Creus canyon heads, located on the Catalan continental margin (NW Mediterranean Sea), has been recently conducted during the CRIMA cruise in September 2020 using high-resolution (4 m grid size) multibeam bathymetry data. These data have been compared with a previous dataset collected in 2004 during the ESPACE project to evaluate the morphological changes during this 16-year interval. Since these canyon heads are located at shallow water depths and at short distances from the shoreline, their short-term evolution is related to the sediment dynamics on the continental shelf.

A large-scale change in the seafloor morphology was observed in the Blanes canyon head, indicating the prevalence of erosion in the western canyon rim and non-deposition in the eastern rim. In the Cap de Creus canyon head, the excavation of pre-existing erosive structures was also evidenced in the southwestern canyon rim. These changes mainly happen in the area where the shelf is narrower, which coincide with the main zone of dense water advection along the shelf and toward the canyon interior. The different small-scale morphological evolution between both canyon heads seems to be related to the local geological characteristic of the subsurface deposits of the continental shelf. The Blanes canyon head incises a succession of relict (Holocene) sediment bodies that can act as a source of erodible sediments to the canyon, mainly during strong storms. The continental shelf in the vicinity of the Cap de Creus canyon head, however, is characterized by a rocky substratum (Paleozoic) with a limited sediment coverage and numerous erosive features that evidence relative sand starvation. This creates a greater erosive resistance, although the erosive character of strong storms and major dense-shelf water cascading events occurring during the studied time interval is evident. Additionally, small changes in the shelf bedforms indicate that such high-energetic oceanographic processes also modify the fine-scale seafloor morphology.

These results reveal that both submarine canyon heads are dynamic and sensitive to oceanographic processes that enhance the erosion and transport of sediment from the shelf into the canyon, particularly during energetic storms and dense shelf water cascading events. Nevertheless, their small-scale evolution seems to be closely related to the type of geological substrate of the shelf on which they are developing.

This study has received funding from the ABRIC (RTI2018-096434-B-I00) and CRIMA (RTI2018-095770-B-I00) Spanish Research Projects, the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 867471 and the Generalitat de Catalunya (2017 SGR-663 and -1588). This work is contributing to the ICM’s ‘Center of Excellence’ Severo Ochoa (CEX2019-000928-S). The authors thank the Secretaría General de Pesca and Tragsa for the 2004 ESPACE Project dataset.

How to cite: Cabrera, C., Durán, R., Puig, P., Guillén, J., Muñoz, A., Demestre, M., and Palanques, A.: Short-term evolution of submarine canyon head morphologies in the NW Mediterranean: Blanes and Cap de Creus canyons, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12286,, 2021.

Arnaud Gaillot, Marc-André Gutscher, Shane Murphy, and Frauke Klingelhoefer

In October 2020, during the marine expedition FocusX1 onboard the research vessel PourquoiPas? microbathymetric mapping was performed using the ROV Victor6000. The main goal was to map the seafloor expression of the North Alfeo fault and select the best path for deployment of a 6-km long fiber optic strain cable designed to monitor movement along the fault and the deployment sites for 8 geodetic stations.

Bathymetric data were collected through a Reson Seabat 7125 multibeam echosounder (400 kHz). ROV navigation data were processed using DelphINS, resulting in an optimal merging of navigation sensors (GPS, USBL, DVL, pressure). The MBES data processing (GLOBE software) mainly consisted in estimating and correcting static angular offsets, applying actual in-situ sound speed profile, and finally performing an automatical and manual soundings filtering.

The resulting bathymetric grid spans a region of roughly 3 km x 1.5 km, with a 1m cell size, and allows  us to identify a variety of morphological features:

1 - a set of narrow, linear, E-W oriented gulleys, all parallel (not merging/branching) on a regional E dipping 5-15° slope

2 - a striking, continuous curvi-linear feature, which is interpreted as the primary surface expression of the fault.The fault morphology changes from a smooth less than 10 m depression in the NW to a up to 10-20m high scarp with slopes of 20-30°, and locally sub-vertical cliff faces.

3 - a local bathymetric plateau (mesa like feature) with a gently E-dipping summit region, showing signs of eastward sliding / rafting tectonics, indicated by N-S oriented gashes/depressions.

The 3-km long segment of the fault covered by our survey includes the mesa-like bathymetric high (at the NW extremity) interpreted as a transpressional pop-up feature and an elongated, fault bounded trough (at the SE extremity) interpreted as a transtensional pull-apart basin. Video-camera images recorded by ROV Victor6000 from the seafloor provide visual documentation of the fault scarp and seafloor morphology. Future surveys with a sub-bottom profiler and/or HR- seismics can help confirm these interpretations. The ongoing monitoring with the fiber-optic strain cable is being calibrated by a 3-4 year deployment of seafloor geodetic instruments (Canopus acoustic beacons manufactured by iXblue) which started in Oct. 2020, and will allow us to quantify relative displacement across the fault.

How to cite: Gaillot, A., Gutscher, M.-A., Murphy, S., and Klingelhoefer, F.: Micro-bathymetric mapping of the North Alfeo strike-slip fault (offshore Catania Sicily): preliminary results from the FocusX1 expedition, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2731,, 2021.

Ljerka Vrdoljak, Marijan Grgić, and Tomislav Bašić

Bathymetric models representing the topography of the seafloor are an important parameter in almost all maritime related research. Traditional bathymetric shipborne or airborne surveys are cost and/or time consuming, and access to the measured data is mostly limited or expensive. Alternative bathymetric data sources for marine researchers are publicly available bathymetric models whose quality is often unknown and/or uneven. This research presents the study on the bathymetric prediction for the Adriatic Sea from altimetry-derived gravity anomalies and in-situ soundings using the gravity - geologic method (GGM). Bathymetric soundings used to determine the density contrast between seawater and bedrock were derived from nautical charts, EMODnet (European Marine Observation and Data Network) bathymetric grid, and GEBCO (General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans) One Minute grid. More than 3000 chart soundings distributed across the Adriatic Sea were used to estimate the quality of the predicted bathymetric model as well as the quality of the latest versions of publicly available bathymetric models: DTU10Bat (Technical University of Denmark), GEBCO 2020, EMODnet 2018, ETOPO1, Smith and Sandwell v.19.1, and SRTM (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission) 15+ V.2.1. The results show that the computed model represents an update to bathymetric data in the Adriatic Sea, especially along its eastern coast.

How to cite: Vrdoljak, L., Grgić, M., and Bašić, T.: Bathymetry estimation from altimeter - derived gravity data in the Adriatic Sea, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-660,, 2021.

Slobodan Miko and the QMAD Project Team

Submerged paleolandscapes constitute records of long-term paleoenvironmental change, climate, and sea level. To date, there is a very limited knowledge concerning the submerged karst paleolandscapes of the eastern Adriatic coast and the Late Quaternary sedimentary sequences along the eastern part of the Mid Adriatic Deep (MAD). We aim to improve this through the project “Sediments between source and sink during a Late Quaternary eustatic cycle: The Krka and the Mid Adriatic Deep System” (QMAD). The QMAD project supports multidisciplinary research by application of the high-resolution geophysical surveys (multibeam, side-scan sonar and sub-bottom profiler), in combination with sedimentological, petrophysical, geochemical (trace elements and isotopes), micropaleontological (ostracod and foraminifera), mineralogical and aDNA techniques. This suite of analyses will enable tracking of the paleoenvironmental evolution from fluvial/lake to deeper marine environments, on a short transect less than 100 km in length (Lake Prokljan in the Krka River estuary to the eastern part of MAD). The submerged Late Pleistocene and Holocene environments that occur include isolation basins, lagoons, deltas, estuaries, submarine channels and shelf. The continuous marine sedimentation during the Late Quaternary is investigated in the MAD. In the case of the central part of the eastern side of the Adriatic Sea (Krka catchment - MAD) these different environments compose an integrated system; thus, they can’t be analysed separately. The main goals of this project fill the existing gaps in understanding of the climatic and environmental changes, including sea-level related landscape changes and their interplay during the Late Quaternary eustatic cycle. More data on the Pleistocene environments, especially from the region of Krka estuary that was land during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), will complete the picture of the evolution and environmental adaptation of Paleolithic humans and their relationship with vegetation changes. Attention is also paid to potential anthropogenic environments, recent sedimentation rates, landscape features and artefacts. All results of the multi-proxy approach applied in this project will eventually be merged into a comprehensive Late Quaternary paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic reconstruction of the eastern Adriatic landscapes that contribute to the understanding of these changes in the Mediterranean region.

How to cite: Miko, S. and the QMAD Project Team: Submerged landscapes of the eastern Adriatic – from the river across the lake all the way to the sea, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12177,, 2021.

Livio Ronchi, Alessandro Fontana, and Annamaria Correggiari

The reconstruction of timing and modes of the last marine transgression is often hampered by the scarceness of available indicators, which is caused by bad preservation, lack of formation or difficult accessibility.

This is particularly true for the first period of the Holocene, between 7 ka and 11 ka cal, when the rate of transgression was high (hence little to absent formation of possible indicators) and the sea level was placed below ca. -20 m MSL (hence scarce accessibility).

Shoreline deposits and erosional landforms have long been recognized as geomorphological indicators of past sea levels. Such indicators (e.g. beach ridges, tidal notches) can be both submerged or exposed due to RSL variations of coastal progradation.

A major group of potential indicators which, up to date, is largely underrepresented, is constituted by paleo tidal inlets. Being excavated up to several meters below the surrounding lagoon and filled during the migration or deactivation of the inlet, such landforms may represent outstanding archives with a potentially high chance of preservation from erosion. Paleo tidal inlets can be easily recognized and cataloged through shallow sub-bottom profiling methods.

The analysis of almost 7000 km of high resolution seismic profiles collected in the northern Adriatic Sea allowed to recognized almost 100 paleo tidal inlets dating to the early Holocene, which constitute the only widespread witnesses of the post-LGM marine transgression in the area. Paleo tidal inlets are essential features to the paleo-geographic and -environmental reconstruction and provide new data to constrain the position of the transgressive coastlines. The presence of widespread lagoon environments during a phase of strong RSL rise comes from the interplay between sediment dispersal operated by the main fluvial actors of the area and phases of slowdown of the RSL rise. This study sheds light on the phenomena affecting coastal plains in response to RSL rise and constitutes the first report of an extensive distribution of paleo tidal inlets on a regional scale.

How to cite: Ronchi, L., Fontana, A., and Correggiari, A.: A trail of crumbs: ancient geomorphological indicators of past sea-level rise in the Northern Adriatic Sea (Italy), EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10987,, 2021.

Romain Rubi, Aurélia Hubert-Ferrari, Elias Fakiris, Dimitris Christodoulou, Xenophon Dimas, Maria Geraga, and George Papatheodorou

Straits are crossed by marine currents that are amplified due to the water constriction. These nearshore high-velocity flows are problematic for offshore infrastructures (bridge pillars, cables, pipelines etc), but constitute an under-estimated carbon-free kinematic energy source. Most of the straits are dominated by tidal currents which flow axially to the seaway, with reversal directions and phase difference between the two interlinked basins. These tidal currents interplay with: (i) sediment sources that also includes in situ carbonate production and deltas, (ii) tectonic activity, and (iii) inherited lowstand features, all shaping the sea floor into complex geomorphologies. Previous studies have highlighted a common tidal-strait depositional model with a strait-center zone in erosion and on each side a dune-bedded strait zone with 3D and 2D tidal dunes and tidal ripples.

Here, we present an alternative tidal-strait model based on an interdisciplinary approach using high-resolution geophysical and oceanographical data to better constrain the processes acting at the sea floor. We focus on the Rion-Antirion strait in Greece which controls the connection between the Gulf of Corinth and the Mediterranean Sea. Based on high-resolution multibeam bathymetry (MBES) over an area of 211km2, we identify and quantify the morphologies by extracting bathymetric swath profiles. These results are integrated with currents data (ADCP) and CTD profiles. In addition,  we use high-resolution Chirp subbottom profiles and high-resolution sparker seismic reflection profiles to document the stratigraphy and morphology of the sedimentary beds and erosional features. To complete this dataset, we use a towed underwater camera to image the sea-floor.

We define three zones, each characterized by common hydrodynamics, bedforms and morpho-bathymetric features which reveal an asymmetric strait. (1) The western zone is dominated by tectonics with salt diapirism and faults which interact with bottom currents to form erosional pools and ridge systems. (2) The strait center zone displays abrasion surfaces which consists on a rough rock-paved plateau surface encrusted by living red corals and sponges. Moreover, a moat cuts this plateau that localizes the sill at its eastern tip. This strait center area is dominated by inherited hard-ground fluviatile deposits which are abraded by bidirectional tidal-currents. (3) The eastern zone shows a deeper bathymetry with smoother features. The sediments are veneered on slopes forming plastered drifts and spits while the basin axis presents large chutes and pools. The bottom-currents in this zone, are related to internal tides from the Gulf of Corinth that are delayed with respect to the tidal currents. These internal-tide currents (3m/s) are three times faster than the oceanic tidal-currents in the strait (1m/s).

In conclusion, we document a tidal-strait system, which is interacting with active tectonics, and internal-tides along its axis. In results, Rion strait displays complex bathymetric features without any 3D or 2D tidal dunes. Thus, it provides a new end member to the tidal-strait depositional model. This end member is characterized by a re-localization of the erosion, bypass and deposition. It illustrates the key role of internal tides for straits located at the boundary between a confined deep-basin and the open-sea.

How to cite: Rubi, R., Hubert-Ferrari, A., Fakiris, E., Christodoulou, D., Dimas, X., Geraga, M., and Papatheodorou, G.: New insights into sedimentary processes and related morphologies in tidal straits: the case of the Rio-Antirio Sill (Greece), EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7220,, 2021.

Zehra Altan, Neslihan Ocakoğlu, and Gualtiero Böhm

The ongoing tectonism in the Western Anatolia creates N-S extension and counter-clockwise rotational motion along the right-lateral North Anatolian fault (NAF) and left-lateral East Anatolian Fault (EAF). This continental extension creates predominantly E-W extending onshore grabens rarely NE to SW and NW to SE trending onshore/offshore grabens characterised by the intense seismic activity, high heat flow associated with volcanism, crustal thinning and geothermal systems. Our study area, the gulf of İzmir, has an “L” shape composing of an E-W oriented inner bay from İzmir to Urla and incompatibly NNW-SSE oriented outer bay between offshore Foça and Karaburun. It is located at the intersection of the E-W oriented onshore Gediz Graben and NE-SW oriented onshore Bakırçay graben. Geophysical evidence for fluid discharge and subsurface gas-associated structures such as gas chimneys, pockmarks, mud diapirs and acoustic turbidity zones have been detected in the inner and outer parts of the Gulf of İzmir by the previous studies. For this reason, the Gulf of İzmir and the adjacent onshore grabens are areas of great interest for further study of the region.

In this study, the 3-D stratigraphic architecture (up to 1.5 km) and the Upper Miocene-Pliocene depositional settings of the Gulf of İzmir reconstructed by reflection tomography for the first time. Three seismic stratigraphic units, labelled SSU1, SSU2 and SSU3 from bottom to top, were identified by their bounding unconformity surfaces (H1-H5). We have subdivided unit SSU1 into three subunits named SSU1c-SSU1a. The acoustic basement associated with SSU3 is likely tied to the Lower-Middle Miocene Yuntdağ Volcanics consisting of tuffs, sandstones, limestones and volcanics. The upper surface of SSU3 (horizon H5) is marked as a major regional unconformity representing a basin-ridge morphology. The first rocks deposited on top of acoustic basement (SSU2) correspond to the sandstones, limestones, volcanics and shales of the Bozköy Formation and the limestones of the Ularca Formation, dating from the Late Miocene to the Pliocene. The top of SSU2 (horizon H4) is interpreted as another unconformity and is correlated with the Pliocene unconformity. Above that, part of the Bayramiç Formation (SSU1c) is dated as Quaternary, consisting of conglomerates at the base overlain by sandstones and shales above. On top of the SSU1c are two further sub-units of the Bayramiç Formation separated by horizons H3 and H2. SSU1b consists of a similar sequence of conglomerates, sandstones and shales; SSU1a consists of Quaternary sandstones. Following the tomographic analysis, the isopach map of the Plio-Quaternary sediment fills was derived from the depth of interpreted horizons calculated using tomographic interval velocities. According to the isopach map of the sedimentary fills, thickness abruptly decreasing from NW to SE. The maximum thickness of total sedimentary succession is ~1400 m in the NW, whereas the thickness decreases through the west, east (up to ~450 m) and the southeastern flank of the basin, reaching ~150 m forming a ridge. A few local lateral velocity variations were identified within the Plio-Quaternary sedimentary succession associated with faults, fluid escape and shallow gas occurrences or a combination of these. 

How to cite: Altan, Z., Ocakoğlu, N., and Böhm, G.: 3-D Architecture and the Upper Miocene-Pliocene Depositional Pattern of the Gulf of İzmir by Reflection Tomography, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16246,, 2021.

Ramez Saeed, Saad Abdelrahman, Andrea Scozari, and Abdelazim Negm


With the fast and highly growing demand for all possible ways of remote work as a result of COVID19 pandemic, new technologies using Satellite data were highly encouraged for multidisciplinary applications in different fields such as; agriculture, climate change, environment, coastal management, maritime, security and Blue Economy.

This work supports applying Satellite Derived Bathymetry (SDB) with the available low-cost multispectral satellite imagery applications, instruments and readily accessible data for different areas with only their benthic parameters, water characteristics and atmospheric conditions.  The main goal of this work is to derive bathymetric data needed for different hydrographic applications, such as: nautical charting, coastal engineering, water quality monitoring, sediment movement monitoring and supporting both green carbon and marine data science.  Also, this work proposes and assesses a SDB procedure that makes use of publicly-available multispectral satellite images (Sentinel2 MSI) and applies algorithms available in the SNAP software package for extracting bathymetry and supporting bathymetric layers against highly expensive traditional in-situ hydrographic surveys. The procedure was applied at SAFAGA harbor area, located south of Hurghada at (26°44′N, 33°56′E), on the Egyptian Red Sea coast.  SAFAGA controls important maritime traffic line in Red Sea such as (Safaga – Deba, Saudi Arabia) maritime cruises.  SAFAGA depths change between 6 m to 22m surrounded by many shoal batches and confined waters that largely affect maritime safety of navigation.  Therefore, there is always a high demand for updated nautical charts which this work supports.  The outcome of this work provides and fulfils those demands with bathymetric layers data for the approach channel and harbour usage bands electronic nautical chart of SAFAGA with reasonable accuracies.  The coefficient of determination (R2) differs between 0.42 to 0.71 after applying water column correction by Lyzenga algorithm and deriving bathymetric data depending on reflectance /radiance of optical imagery collected by sentinel2 missions with in-situ depth data values relationship by Stumpf equation.  The adopted approach proved to give  highly reasonable results that could be used in nautical charts compilation. Similar methodologies could be applied to inland water bodies.  This study is part of the MSc Thesis of the first author and is in the framework of a bilateral project between ASRT of Egypt and CNR of Italy which is still running.

Keywords: Algorithm, Bathymetry, Sentinel 2, nautical charting, Safaga port, satellite imagery, water depth, Egypt.

How to cite: Saeed, R., Abdelrahman, S., Scozari, A., and Negm, A.: Sentinel-2 mission Contribution for Supporting Bathymetric layers of SAFAGA coastal zone, Egypt, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14327,, 2021.

Alessandra Savini, Fabio Marchese, Luca Fallati, Sebastian Krastel, Aaron Micallef, Luca Saponari, Francesca Dajma, Gabriele Mandelli, and Paolo Galli

Optical remote sensing data coupled with a dense network of field surveys have historically played a crucial role in geomorphological mapping of coral reef environments. Recently this field has undergone a major upgrade thanks to the integration of new advanced methods such as LiDAR, AUV-based and close-range digital photogrammetry and acoustic remote sensing techniques, which are able to investigate the deeper components of this complex geomorphic system. The new detailed maps can produce seamless digital elevation model (DEM) of coral reef environments, by integrating the elevation datasets acquired by the combination of the mentioned survey techniques.

In our work, a harmonised geomorphological map is generated for the Magoodhoo reef, which borders the southwestern discontinuous marginal rim of a subcircular atoll (i.e. Faafu Atoll) of the Maldivian archipelago. In its north-eastern sector the reef consists of a cuspate reef joined to an almost closed ring reef to the south-west, where Magoodhoo Island is located. The map was generated from the analysis of Sentinel data, orthomosaics and 3D optical models generated by the application of SfM techniques to UAV images, as well as bathymetry and backscatter intensity measurements. The latter were collected down to a depth of up to 120 m along the oceanward margin of the atoll's rim, and to a depth of roughly 60 m along the lagoonward margin. Direct observations were also performed using an observational ROV on the forereef and within the lagoon, and video-transects on the reef flat.

The oceanward margin shows steep terraced slopes that reveal a complex history of late Pleistocene/Holocene sea level oscillations, while the backreef slopes (toward the lagoon) are generally more gentle, although at places can show abrupt escarpments and overhangs. The lagoon submarine landscape is distinctly featured by patch reefs of variable shapes (from circular to sub-elongated) and dimensions (from few meters to 30m high). Their distribution is clearly controlled by the surface circulation pattern, regulated by the pass that borders the reef to the west. Towards the deeper edge of the mapped sector of the lagoon floor, where patch reefs are totally absent, intriguing small-scale depressions have been detected instead. The regular circular and concave shape calls for their interpretation as pockmarks, but their origin is still unknow due to the  lack of core samples and geochemical analysis in the area. New data are actually needed to precisely outline the sedimentary environments that feature Faafu Atoll and its inner lagoon. Nevertheless, the obtained geomorphological map and the mapped landforms shed new light and a more complete understanding on the processes that drive morphological changes of the entire Magoodhoo reef.

How to cite: Savini, A., Marchese, F., Fallati, L., Krastel, S., Micallef, A., Saponari, L., Dajma, F., Mandelli, G., and Galli, P.: The contribution of acoustic seafloor mapping techniques to outlining coral reef geomorphology: A case study in the Republic of Maldives (Magoodhoo Reef – Maldivian Archipelago), EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16421,, 2021.