The influence of the geological setting on the morphogenetic evolution of the Tremiti Archipelago (Apulia, Southeastern Italy)
Abstract. The Tremiti Archipelago (Southern Adriatic Sea), also called Insulae Diomedae from the name of the Greek hero who first landed there, is an area of high landscape and historical value. It is severely affected by significant geomorphologic processes dominated by mass movements along the coast that constitute the most important and unpredictable natural hazard for the population and cultural heritage. Coastal erosion is favoured by the peculiar geological and structural setting, seismic activity, weathering, development of karst processes, and wave action.
The present paper reports on descriptive and qualitative evaluation of the factors controlling landslides and coastline changes based on medium-term in situ observation, detailed surface surveys at selected locations since 1995, and historic and bibliographic data.
The Tremiti Archipelago is part of an active seismic area characterised by a shear zone separating two segments of the Adriatic microplate that have shown different behaviour and roll back rates in the subduction underneath the Apennines since middle Pleistocene.
Although coastal morphology can be basically considered to be the result of wave action, the continual action of subaerial processes contributes effectively to the mechanism of shoreline degradation. Weathering mainly affects the marly calcisiltites and calcilutites of the Cretaccio Fm. and the friable and low cemented calcarenites and biomicrites of the San Nicola Fm. The cliffs are characterised by different types of failure such as lateral spreads, secondary topples, rock falls and slides. At the Isle of San Nicola, landslides are controlled by the contrast in competence, shear strength and stiffness between the Pliocene re-crystallised dolomitic calcarenites and calcisiltites and the Miocene marly calcilutites and calcisiltites. At the Isles of San Domino and Caprara rock falls are attributed to the undercutting of waves at the base of the cliffs.