Seismic reflection imaging of active offshore faults in the Gulf of Corinth: their seismotectonic significance


A. Stefatos, Laboratory of Marine Geology and Physical Oceanography, Geology Department, University of Patras, Patras 265 00, Greece. E-mail:;


High resolution seismic reflection surveys over one of the most active and rapidly extending regions in the world, the Gulf of Corinth, have revealed that the gulf is a complex asymmetric graben whose geometry varies significantly along its length. A detailed map of the offshore faults in the gulf shows that a major fault system of nine distinct faults limits the basin to the south. The northern Gulf appears to be undergoing regional subsidence and is affected by an antithetic major fault system consisting of eight faults. All these major faults have been active during the Quaternary. Uplifted coastlines along their footwalls, growth fault patterns and thickening of sediment strata toward the fault planes indicate that some of these offshore faults on both sides of the graben are active up to present.

Our data ground-truth recent models and provides actual observations of the distribution of variable deformation rates in the Gulf of Corinth. Furthermore they suggest that the offshore faults should be taken into consideration in explaining the high extension rates and the uplift scenarios of the northern Peloponnesos coast. The observed coastal uplift appears to be the result of the cumulative effect of deformation accommodated by more than one fault and therefore, average uplift rates deduced from raised fossil shorelines, should be treated with caution when used to infer individual fault slip rates.

Seismic reflection profiling is a vital tool in assessing seismic hazard and basin-formation in areas of active extension.