3D outcrop modelling of large discordant breccia bodies in basinal carbonates of the Apulian margin, Italy

Danica Jablonska* (Corresponding Author), Alan Pitts, Claudio Di Celma, Tiziano Volatili, G. Ian Alsop, Emanuele Tondi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Large discordant breccia bodies (LDBBs) are important record keepers of the tectonic and gravitational evolution in platform-to-basinal settings, and have important implications for fluid-flow migration and compartmentalization of tight carbonate reservoirs. In the Gargano Promontory of southern Italy, LDBBs occur within a Cretaceous slope and basinal carbonate succession. We use field mapping and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) -based Structure from Motion (SfM) Photogrammetry to document otherwise inaccessible cliff-side exposures of seismic-to subseismic-scale vertical discordant breccias. LDBBs are up to 50 m in width, more than 80 m in height and display internal chaotic or aligned clast fabrics. The formation which generally contains the LDBBs is characterized by beds of cherty pelagic limestone intercalated with calcarenites, calciturbidites and horizons of mass transport deposits. The mass-transport deposits can be correlated across the chaotic breccia bodies, indicating only slight or no vertical displacement across the adjacent walls. The bases of the breccia bodies are always hidden below current sea level, while the rarely exposed tops are capped by bedded intervals of the host rock formation. Timing and origin of the studied breccias were determined using several lines of evidence, such as stratigraphic provenance of clasts in breccias, mutual relationships of structural and sedimentologic features, and previous studies which establish that the age of dolomitizing cements in the LDBBs formed at different times and by different processes (fault shearing and solution collapse). This work investigates the size, shape and geometry of these breccia bodies whilst also providing cm-scale detail of the textural features in otherwise inaccessible outcrops. We suggest that breccias formed as a result of solution exploiting a pre-existing fracture network characterized by large-scale vertical strike-slip or oblique-slip faults. Initial displacement along these faults created a wide fault damage zone, where fluid migration was later focused to create a zone highly susceptible to solution and subsequent periodic sidewall collapse.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104732
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalMarine and Petroleum Geology
Early online date28 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work has been supported by Reservoir Characterisation Project ( www.rechproject.com ) ‘Characterisation and modelling of natural reservoirs of geofluids in fractured carbonate rocks’, funded by the University of Camerino , coordinator Emanuele Tondi. We acknowledge use of Rick Allmendinger's stereonet programme R. W. Allmendinger © 2006–2014). An additional thanks to Simon Buckley and the Virtual Outcrop Geology group at the University of Aberdeen for assistance using their LIME software for the this project. We would like to express our gratitude to the editors of this special issue and anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and for their useful suggestions that led to the improvement of the article's quality.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020


  • Apulian carbonate platform
  • Chaotic breccias
  • Gravitational processes
  • Near-slope carbonates
  • SfM photogrammetry
  • Solution collapses


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