Sedimentology of a marine intermontane Pleistocene Gilbert-type fan-delta complex in the Crati Basin, Calabria, southern Italy



The Crati Basin is a Pliocene-Holocene extensional basin filled by the progradation of different types of marine fan-delta systems. Coarse-grained Gilbert-type fan-deltas developed during the Pleistocene. They represent the sedimentary response to a strong differential uplift involving the basin margins and the basin itself. The differential uplift was responsible for the fragmentation of the basin into several sub-basins, into which these fan-deltas prograded. The protection and lateral confinement by structural highs, steep coastlines and the absence of strong tidal action in the adjacent Ionian Sea, allowed the regular progradation of these fan-deltas in the restricted gulfs and narrow embayments of the Crati Basin. For the classical Gilbert-type (fan) deltas in lacustrine settings, homopycnal inflow favours a rapid mixing of water masses and deposition of sediment close to the river mouth. In the case of the example described here, the density contrast between the sea water and the inflowing river water caused the separation of the muddy fraction from the coarse sandy and conglomeratic part of the sediment. This allowed the development of steep mud-poor coarse-grained delta foresets.

Slope instability features (slump scars, conglomeratic flow slides) are fairly scarce in the proximal parts of the San Lorenzo del Vallo system. Towards the north, where protection from the Ionian Sea was less, they increase in importance.