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The SEISMOFAULTS project (www.seismofaults.it) was set up in 2016 with the general plan of exploring the seismicity of marine areas using deep seafloor observatories. The activity of the first two years (Seismofaults 2017 and 2018) consisted of the installation of a geophysical-geochemical temporary monitoring network over the Ionian Sea floor. Eleven ocean-bottom seismometers with hydrophones (OBS/H) and two seafloor geochemical-geophysical multiparametric observatories were deployed to: (1) identify seismically active faults; (2) identify potential geochemical precursors of earthquakes; and (3) understand possible cause–effect relationships between earthquakes and submarine slides. Furthermore, five gravity cores were collected from the Ionian Sea bottom and ~4082 km of geophysical acquisition, including multibeam and single channel seismic reflection data, were acquired for a total of 4970 km2 high-resolution multibeam bathymetry. Using Niskin bottles, four water column samples were collected: two corresponding at the location of the two multiparametric observatories (i.e., along presumably-active fault zones), one corresponding at a recently discovered mud volcano, and one located above a presumably-active fault zone away from the other three sites. Preliminary results show: (1) a significant improvement in the quality and quantity of seismological records; (2) endogenous venting from presumably active faults; (3) active geofluid venting from a recently-discovered mud volcano; and (4) the correct use of most submarine devices. Preliminary results from the SEISMOFAULTS project show and confirm the potential of multidisciplinary marine studies, particularly in geologically active areas like southern Italy and the Mediterranean Sea.
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