For the first time, limnogeological investigations have been carried out in Lake Como, the deepest lake of the Alps, combining a bathymetric survey (multibeam Simrad 3000) with a high-resolution seismic reflection study (single-channel 3.5 kHz sub-bottom profiler) and a coring campaign (gravity corer). This data set enables detailed characterization of the sedimentary subsurface in the western branch of the lake, the Como branch, which has a typical fjord morphology. This paper focuses on the deepest part of the Como branch (Argegno basin), in which up to 3.5-m-thick turbidite deposits are identified. The basin fill of the Como branch is characterized by well-layered draping and onlapping pelagic sediments that are locally affected by creeping and that are intercalated with mass-wasting deposits, in particular with two large debris-flow deposits evolving into megaturbidites in the deepest part of the basin. The multibeam data together with the acoustic-facies distributions and the volumes of these two major sedimentary deposits MT1 ( 3 × 106 m3) and MT2 ( 10.5 × 106 m3) indicate that they resulted from large slides at the northern tip of the Como branch along the steep slopes of a sub-lacustrine plateau. The estimated ages of these events, around the mid-12th (MT1) and early 6th (MT2) centuries, are extrapolated from mean sedimentation rates based on radiocarbon (14C) and radionuclide (137Cs) analyses from short cores in the Argegno basin. Possible trigger mechanisms leading to these catastrophic events in the Como branch include a combination of steep-slope overloading, with significant lake-level fluctuations related to Holocene climate change and/or earthquake shaking. The tentative age assignment places the age of both major mass movements near two other events: MT1 near the occurrence of a major earthquake in the Po Plain in 1222 AD (Intensity IX MCS, macroseismically derived magnitude 6.2) and MT2 near a megaturbidite triggered in 700 AD in a proglacial lake in southeastern Switzerland [Blass, A., Anselmetti, F., Grosjean, M., Sturm, M., 2005. The last 1300 years of environmental history in the sediments of Lake Sils (Engadine, Switzerland). Eclogae Geologicae Helvetiae 98, 319–332]. Since dangerous, tsunami-like waves (seiches) can be generated by large sub-aqueous landslides leading to such megaturbidites in this fjord-like basin, future studies are required: 1) to constrain the age of these catastrophic events; 2) to document the stabilities of the steep slopes in the Como branch, 3) to assess the expected frequency of such catastrophic events and 4) to model the propagation of large waves in the Como branch and their potential damage along the highly populated lake shore.

Megaturbidite deposits in the Holocene basin fill of Lake Como (Southern Alps, Italy)

VEZZOLI, LUIGINA MARIA
2008-01-01

Abstract

For the first time, limnogeological investigations have been carried out in Lake Como, the deepest lake of the Alps, combining a bathymetric survey (multibeam Simrad 3000) with a high-resolution seismic reflection study (single-channel 3.5 kHz sub-bottom profiler) and a coring campaign (gravity corer). This data set enables detailed characterization of the sedimentary subsurface in the western branch of the lake, the Como branch, which has a typical fjord morphology. This paper focuses on the deepest part of the Como branch (Argegno basin), in which up to 3.5-m-thick turbidite deposits are identified. The basin fill of the Como branch is characterized by well-layered draping and onlapping pelagic sediments that are locally affected by creeping and that are intercalated with mass-wasting deposits, in particular with two large debris-flow deposits evolving into megaturbidites in the deepest part of the basin. The multibeam data together with the acoustic-facies distributions and the volumes of these two major sedimentary deposits MT1 ( 3 × 106 m3) and MT2 ( 10.5 × 106 m3) indicate that they resulted from large slides at the northern tip of the Como branch along the steep slopes of a sub-lacustrine plateau. The estimated ages of these events, around the mid-12th (MT1) and early 6th (MT2) centuries, are extrapolated from mean sedimentation rates based on radiocarbon (14C) and radionuclide (137Cs) analyses from short cores in the Argegno basin. Possible trigger mechanisms leading to these catastrophic events in the Como branch include a combination of steep-slope overloading, with significant lake-level fluctuations related to Holocene climate change and/or earthquake shaking. The tentative age assignment places the age of both major mass movements near two other events: MT1 near the occurrence of a major earthquake in the Po Plain in 1222 AD (Intensity IX MCS, macroseismically derived magnitude 6.2) and MT2 near a megaturbidite triggered in 700 AD in a proglacial lake in southeastern Switzerland [Blass, A., Anselmetti, F., Grosjean, M., Sturm, M., 2005. The last 1300 years of environmental history in the sediments of Lake Sils (Engadine, Switzerland). Eclogae Geologicae Helvetiae 98, 319–332]. Since dangerous, tsunami-like waves (seiches) can be generated by large sub-aqueous landslides leading to such megaturbidites in this fjord-like basin, future studies are required: 1) to constrain the age of these catastrophic events; 2) to document the stabilities of the steep slopes in the Como branch, 3) to assess the expected frequency of such catastrophic events and 4) to model the propagation of large waves in the Como branch and their potential damage along the highly populated lake shore.
2008
Deep lacustrine sedimentation; High resolution seismic profiling; Multibeam bathymetry; Slope failure; Debris flows; Megaturbidites
D., Fanetti; F. S., Anselmetti; E., Chapron; M., Sturm; Vezzoli, LUIGINA MARIA
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11383/1500859
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