The Numidian of Sicily revisited: a thrust-influenced confined turbidite system

Patricia R. Pinter*, Robert W H Butler, Adrian J. Hartley, Rosanna Maniscalco, Niccolò Baldassini, Agata Di Stefano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Understanding whether a system was unconfined, and deposited on a relatively unstructured basin-floor, or was confined by actively deforming substrate is important for the prediction of turbidite stratigraphy. Here we consider the Numidian turbidite system (Oligocene-Miocene) of Sicily - for many the type example of thick structureless submarine sandstones. New mapping and detailed sedimentology in the Nebrodi and Madonie Mountains (northern Sicily), allied to existing and new biostratigraphic data, challenge conventional interpretations for the Numidian system as a whole. Rather than having been deposited within an unstructured foredeep by relatively unconfined flows, we show that Numidian deposition was confined by active structures. These governed the routing of turbidity currents to create sand fairways and associated facies variations. The controlling structures include thrust-related folds together with inherited basin-floor faults. Existing models suggest that facies variations between adjacent outcrops on Sicily (and elsewhere) result from long-range stratigraphic variations being juxtaposed by later large-displacement thrusts. Our research reveals a much simpler tectonic structure but a more complex stratigraphic arrangement for the Numidian on Sicily - a characteristic of confined turbidite systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-311
Number of pages21
JournalMarine and Petroleum Geology
Early online date20 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

The research presented here is funded by BG Group in partnership with CNPq-Brazil (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development). Rosanna Maniscalco acknowledges a FIR 2014 grant awarded by the University of Catania, Sicily. Patricia Pinter thanks Prof. Karin Goldberg for helpful discussions in the field and Thisiane dos Santos, Francesca Porro and Dario La Camiola for extensive field assistance. Finally we thank Simon Lomas and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments that helped us to improve this paper.


  • Active basin
  • Confined turbidites
  • Facies variations
  • Numidian system


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