Controls on mesophotic carbonate facies and sediment distribution across the Maltese shelf, central Mediterranean Sea

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Or M. Bialik , Giovanni Coletti, Christian Berndt, Mark Schmidt, Aaron Micallef


Although ~20% of global carbonate occurs on extra-tropical shelves, our understanding of these depositional environments still lags far behind that of tropical carbonate platforms. The Maltese shelf in the central Mediterranean offers an opportunity to study in situ facies distribution in a light-dominated extra-tropical carbonate platform and the factors controlling them. The Maltese shelf visually exhibits three main facies: seagrass meadows; sand flats/bedforms and maerl. While visually distinctive, the allochem composition of the sediment does not offer a clear differentiation of all three but rather a gradient. This gradient is marked by increasing grain size with depth, a transition from green to red calcareous algae and an increase in the fraction of low Mg calcite. While some of these features could be explained by changes in light availability, other factors are also in play. Internal waves, currents and baffling by seafloor vegetation appear to play important roles in governing the sedimentary texture and composition across the Maltese shelf. The role of vegetated substrate is of greater importance in Mediterranean C-type carbonate factories and could be an important marker to identify them in the geological record.



Other Environmental Sciences, Sedimentology


Coralline algae, Malta, maerl, calcareous sand, carbonate factories, Malta, maerl, calcareous sand, carbonate factories


Published: 2024-05-02 11:02

Last Updated: 2024-05-02 15:02


CC-BY Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International

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