Ensuring very shallow-water sediment properties: case study from Capo Granitola harbour, Sicily (Italy)


We present high-resolution Vp models of the Capo Granitola harbor, Sicily (Italy) obtained by first arrival traveltime tomography. Seismic data were collected along four hydrophone arrays on the sea-bottom and via a Watergun as seismic source, in order to plan dredging operations in the harbor. Using a hydrophone spacing of 2.5 m and shot spacing of 5 m, very high resolution quality data were recorded. Seismic tomography expands existing knowledge of the harbour subsoil with a penetration of about 20 m, illuminating the Lower Pleistocene bedrock (Marsala calcarenites) that corresponds to high-Vp regions (Vp > 4.5 km/s). Low Vp (1.8–4.5 km/s) deposits belonging to terraced calcarenites (Upper Pleistocene in age) are also well imaged; they are about 8 m thick and lie below loose sand deposits (Vp = 1.5 km/s). The substratum has an articulated morphology; Vp images unravel small steps in the basement probably related to structural discontinuities (e.g., faults). Processing data with 3D techniques enables images of the structure and the thickness of the lithotypes to be reconstructed, thus leading to large-scale, realistic estimates of the total quantity of material to be excavated or dredged. Tomographic profiles permit clear discrimination of the soft sediment above the basement and thus allow the determination of the total volume of sediment above the seismic bedrock, estimated at about 265,000 m3.

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Fig. 1

(redrawn from F. n°265 “Mazara del Vallo”). Mazara-Castelvetrano alignment (CCA) was projected using image data from ENVISAT SAR (http://www.pcn.minambiente.it); c Mean displacement velocity (in mm/year) (taken from Portale Cartografico Nazionale—http://www.pcn.minambiente.it). The yellow circle indicates the highly deformed coastline in the area of Marina di Capo Granitola harbor

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The authors are grateful to Dr. Salvatore Mazzola for supporting this research. The authors wish to thank Mr. Paolo Scotto di Vettimo, Mr. Michele Iavarone for their technical support during the field data acquisition; to Dr. Ines Alberico and Dr. Nicola Pelosi for their scientific support. Many thanks are due to Dr. Giorgio Tranchida for providing the well log data; to Dr. Mario Sprovieri and Mr. Vincenzo Di Stefano for their technical support and availability. The authors would like to thank the reviewers for their valuable comments and remarks.

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Correspondence to Michele Punzo.

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Punzo, M., Cavuoto, G., Tarallo, D. et al. Ensuring very shallow-water sediment properties: case study from Capo Granitola harbour, Sicily (Italy). Mar Geophys Res 38, 313–323 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11001-017-9313-8

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  • Seismic tomography
  • Modelling
  • Basement morphology
  • Sediments
  • Physical proprieties