• Flow transitions;
  • island volcano;
  • subaqueous cohesionless density flows;
  • submarine landslide deposits


Stromboli is a 3000 m high island volcano, rising to 900 m above sea-level. It is the most active volcano of the Aeolian Archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea (Italy). Major, large volume (1 km3) sector collapses, four occurring in the last 13 kyr, have played an important role in shaping the north-western flank (Sciara del Fuoco) of the volcano, potentially generating a high-risk tsunami hazard for the Aeolian Islands and the Italian coast. However, smaller volume, partial collapses of the Sciara del Fuoco have been shown to be more frequent tsunami-generating events. One such event occurred on 30 December 2002, when a partial collapse of the north-western flank of the island took place. The resulting landslide generated 10 m high tsunami waves that impacted the island. Multibeam bathymetry, side-scan sonar imaging and visual observations reveal that the landslide deposited 25 to 30 × 106 m3 of sediment on the submerged slope offshore from the Sciara del Fuoco. Two contiguous main deposit facies are recognized: (i) a chaotic, coarse-grained (metre-sized to centimetre-sized clasts) deposit; and (ii) a sand deposit containing a lower, cross-bedded sand layer and an upper structureless pebbly sand bed capped by sea floor ripple bedforms. The sand facies develops adjacent to and partially overlying the coarse deposits. Characteristics of the deposits suggest that they were derived from cohesionless, sandy matrix density flows. Flow rheology and dynamics led to the segregation of the density flow into sand-rich and clast-rich regions. A range of density flow transitions, both in space and in time, caused principally by particle concentration and grain-size partitioning within cohesionless parent flows was identified in the deposits of this relatively small-scale submarine landslide event.