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Geodynamics of the Central Mediterranean: A multidisciplinary investigation of the Sicily Channel region

Project description

Towards a better understanding of the geodynamics of the Central Mediterranean

Plate margins are susceptible to earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions. Contributing to our understanding of them, the EU-funded GEOMED project will investigate the evolution of plate margins when multiple tectonic processes interact within a small area. To do this, GEOMED will study the Calabrian Arc, with special attention on the Sicily Channel Rift Zone extending more than 600 km in length offshore from the south of Sardinia to the south-east of Malta. The results of the study, which will be incorporated into a regional analogue model, will enable the project to characterise the evolution of plate margins along back-arc systems in detail and provide other insights.


The objective of this research proposal is to understand the evolution of plate margins when multiple tectonic processes (e.g. plate convergence, subduction, and backarc extension) interact within a small area (e.g. the Calabrian arc in the Central Mediterranean). These margins are prone to catastrophic earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions, and are all linked to long-term dynamic tectonic processes. Various models explain the evolution of these plate margins, however, lack detail on the extension and rifting that takes place along the arcs. The earthquakes in these areas have a strong dependence on their location along the arc, and hence in any effort aimed at mitigating seismic risk, it is crucial to have a complete understanding of how plate tectonics work when multiple tectonic processes act.

We propose a multidisciplinary geophysical and geodynamic investigation of seismic data with additional physical constraints and analogue modelling to improve our understanding on this important aspect of plate tectonics. This will be accomplished by studying the Calabrian Arc, with a special attention on the Sicily Channel Rift Zone. We will incorporate the results into a regional analogue model to understand the nature and role of these processes, which can then be exported for studying other regions. This will allow us to characterise the evolution of plate margins along backarc systems in unprecedented detail, and to investigate the link between plate convergence, subduction, and backarc extension with the tectonics along and at the front of the arc, thus providing a new insight on the evolution of our planet.

The study will ultimately contribute to the mitigation of seismic risk by improving the seismic hazard assessment of the countries affected. Some of these places are highly inhabited areas, home to millions of citizens, a destination to millions of tourists, and have strong commercial activity off shore.



Net EU contribution
€ 183 473,28
Via ostiense 133
00154 Roma

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Centro (IT) Lazio Roma
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00