Stratigraphic variations control deformation patterns in evaporite basins: Messinian examples, onshore and offshore Sicily (Italy)

Robert W. H. Butler, Rosanna Maniscalco, Giovanni Sturiale, Mario Grasso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Three-dimensional seismic data are increasingly resolving original compositional heterogeneity and structural complexity in evaporitic successions within sedimentary basins. The relationship between basin structure, evaporite
composition and its influence on subsequent deformation are investigated here using Messinian examples from the Maghrebian thrust system of Sicily and applied to the adjacent Ionian sea-bed. By integrating outcrop and onshore subsurface data, we demonstrate variations in evaporite stratigraphies deposited across thrust-top basins, and how these variations have controlled subsequent deformation of these basins. Gypsum and carbonate units develop broad single-layer buckle fold trains, with wavelengths reflecting layer thickness. The development of deformation appears limited by bending resistance at fold hinges, which can be overcome by syntectonic erosion. In contrast, the thick halite and K-salt accumulations in growth synclines have deformed with short-wavelength folds and distributed strain. These structures can display rapid lateral
variations (on a scale of hundreds of metres). Similar structural styles, with buckle fold trains passing laterally into more homogeneously shortened, short-wavelength folding, are evident on seismic data from the buried Messinian interval beneath the Ionian Sea. Using the Sicilian outcrop as analogues, the structural styles for the Ionian may be used to infer evaporite type in these subsurface examples.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113– 124
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Geological Society
Issue number1
Early online date27 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements and Funding
We are grateful to Ente Minerario Siciliano and Italkali for the provision of
extensive subsurface data from Realmonte, Corvillo and Mandre areas. We
thank F. Peel and an anonymous referee for comments. Seismic reflection data
are available for inspection and interpretation at the Virtual Seismic Atlas (www. R.M. acknowledges a MIUR Cofin-PRIN 2010–2011 grant.


Dive into the research topics of 'Stratigraphic variations control deformation patterns in evaporite basins: Messinian examples, onshore and offshore Sicily (Italy)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this