Skip to main content Skip to footer content

The Peloponnese continental margin from Zakynthos Island to Pylos: morphology and recent sedimentary processes



Funded by the EEC Sixth Framework Program, the SEAHELLARC project was aimed to evaluate, and better understand the causes, of the various natural geohazards (chiefly earthquakes and tsunamis), which frequently affect the western Peloponnese area and particularly its coastal domain; this region is one of the most seismically active of Greece and therefore of the Mediterranean Sea. Based on a set of new geophysical data, such as detailed swath bathymetry and high-resolution sub-bottom Chirp, we have distinguished and studied four contrasted domains along this area of the Peloponnese active continental margin underlined by intense crustal seismicity and marked by very contrasted and often sharp continental slopes; from east to west these are: (1) an area including the continental shelf and the upper slope; there sedimentary overload and destabilizations, syn-sedimentary faults, mass transport deposits and active sedimentary by-pass mechanisms are the main risk factors. (2) The middle to lower continental slopes, is mainly expressed by two, N-S trending, faultrelated, depressions, where active deformations, well recorded by actual tilting of the sedimentary blanket, occur. (3) West of this deep structural depressions exists a poorly sedimented ridge area (from which merges the small Strophades Islands) also showing N-S and E-W trending lineaments resulting in a dense network of fractures and scarps and leading too a particularly complex sub-marine morphology; this area, together with the westernmost deep domain (4), which bounds the continental margin, clearly records the effects of significant active tectonic. Our studies of the shallow and recent sedimentary cover of the continental margin off western Peloponnese, confirm that this active margin segment is an area where geohazards can be expected. In addition to fault ruptures, generated at depth by the specific tectonic framework, sedimentary collapses, particularly along the shelf break nearby Cape Katakolo, may trigger significant local tsunamis, which may in turn induce strong damages all along the nearby coasts up to the town of Pylos.