Boulder coastal deposits at Favignana Island rocky coast (Sicily, Italy): Litho-structural and hydrodynamic control

Fabrizio Pepe, Marta Corradino, Nicolò Parrino, Giovanni Besio, Valeria Lo Presti, Pietro Renda, Lucio Calcagnile, Gianluca Quarta, Attilio Sulli, Fabrizio Antonioli

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Abstract

Boulders are frequently dislodged from rock platforms, transported and deposited along coastal zones by high-magnitude storm waves or tsunamis. Their size and shape are often controlled by the thickness of bedding planes as well as by high-angle to bedding fracture network. We investigate these processes along two coastal areas of Favignana Island by integrating geological data for 81 boulders, 49 rupture surfaces (called sockets) and fracture orientation and spacing with four radiocarbon dates, numerical hydrodynamic analysis, and hindcast numerical simulation data. Boulders are scattered along the carbonate platform as isolated blocks or in small groups, which form, as a whole, a discontinuous berm. Underwater surveys also highlight free boulders with sharp edges and sockets carved out in the rock platform. Boulders are composed of ruditic- to arenitic-size clastic carbonates. Their size ranges from 0.6 to 3.7 m, 0.55 to 2.4 m, and 0.2 to 1 m on the major (A), medium (B), and minor (C) axes, respectively. The highest value of mass estimation is 12.5 t. Almost all of boulders and sockets are characterized by a tabular or bladed shape. The comparisons between a) the fractures spacing and the length of A- and B-axes, and b) the frequency peaks of C-axis with the recurrent thickness of beds measured along the coastal zone demonstrate the litho-structural control in the size and shape of joint-bounded boulders. These comparisons, together with the similarity between the shapes of the boulders and those of the sockets as well as between the lithology of boulders and the areas surrounding the sockets, suggest that blocks originate by detachment from the platform edge. Thus, the most common pre-transport setting is the joint-bounded scenario. Hydrodynamic equations estimate that the storm wave heights necessary to initiate the transport of blocks diverge from ~ 2 m to ~ 8 m for joint-bounded boulders and from few tens of centimeters up to ~ 11 m for submerged boulders. The comparison between the wave heights at the breaking point of the coastal zones with the results of hydrodynamic equations shows that waves approaching the coastline are able to transport all surveyed boulders. Our data suggest that boulders have been transported by several storm events, even in very recent times.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191 - 209
Number of pages19
JournalGeomorphology
Volume303
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth-Surface Processes

Cite this

Pepe, F., Corradino, M., Parrino, N., Besio, G., Presti, V. L., Renda, P., Calcagnile, L., Quarta, G., Sulli, A., & Antonioli, F. (2018). Boulder coastal deposits at Favignana Island rocky coast (Sicily, Italy): Litho-structural and hydrodynamic control. Geomorphology, 303, 191 - 209. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2017.11.017