Exploring the submarine Graham Bank in the Sicily Channel

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Mauro Coltelli
Danilo Cavallaro
Giuseppe D’Anna
Antonino D’Alessandro
Fausto Grassa
Giorgio Mangano
Domenico Patanè
Stefano Gresta


In the Sicily Channel, volcanic activity has been concentrated mainly on the Pantelleria and Linosa islands, while minor submarine volcanism took place in the Adventure, Graham and Nameless banks. The volcanic activity spanned mostly during Plio-Pleistocene, however, historical submarine eruptions occurred in 1831 on the Graham Bank and in 1891 offshore Pantelleria Island. On the Graham Bank, 25 miles SW of Sciacca, the 1831 eruption formed the short-lived Ferdinandea Island that represents the only Italian volcano active in historical times currently almost completely unknown and not yet monitored. Moreover, most of the Sicily Channel seismicity is concentrated along a broad NS belt extending from the Graham Bank to Lampedusa Island. In 2012, the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) carried out a multidisciplinary oceanographic cruise, named “Ferdinandea 2012”, the preliminary results of which represent the aim of this paper. The cruise goal was the mapping of the morpho-structural features of some submarine volcanic centres located in the northwestern side of the Sicily Channel and the temporary recording of their seismic and degassing activity. During the cruise, three OBS/Hs (ocean bottom seismometer with hydrophone) were deployed near the Graham, Nerita and Terribile submarine banks. During the following 9 months they have recorded several seismo-acoustic signals produced by both tectonic and volcanic sources. A high-resolution bathymetric survey was achieved on the Graham Bank and on the surrounding submarine volcanic centres. A widespread and voluminous gas bubbles emission was observed by both multibeam sonar echoes and a ROV (remotely operated vehicle) along the NW side of the Graham Bank, where gas and seafloor samples were also collected.

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How to Cite
Coltelli, M., Cavallaro, D., D’Anna, G., D’Alessandro, A., Grassa, F., Mangano, G., Patanè, D. and Gresta, S. (2016) “Exploring the submarine Graham Bank in the Sicily Channel”, Annals of Geophysics, 59(2), p. S0208. doi: 10.4401/ag-6929.

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