Submarine canyon systems along the Ionian Calabrian margin, Central Mediterranean Sea
The tectonically-active Ionian continental margin of Calabria (ICM) is densely incised by a network of submarine canyons. Multibeam bathymetric datasets from water depths of 50 to 2000 m provide information on the geomorphology of the canyon systems over axial extents of tens of kilometers. Some of the canyons are single headed, while others form hierarchic systems with five or more canyons merging to build dendritic systems, some but not all of which are connected to onshore drainage networks. Individual canyons are up to 2 km wide, with vertical relief of over 200m and headwalls, when characterized by a cauliflower-like morphology, that can extend over distances of more than 50 km. We present information from seismic reflection profiles indicating the canyons are remarkably young, having formed over the last ca. 1 Ma. We propose the canyons to result from the late Pleistocene km-scale uplift of Calabria, modulated by interaction with glacial-interglacial sea level changes, that have driven changes in sediment supply and slope gradient. We also note evidence of retrogressive activity and consider its relevance to the canyons as potential coastal geohazards.