This model is the result of multi-scale acoustic investigations, based on multibeam and side-scan sonar surveys, carried out at the Santa Maria di Leuca (SML) Cold-Water Coral (CWC) province (northern Ionian Sea – eastern Mediterranean), over more than 1700 km2, between 80 m and 1400 m of water depth. Mass-wasting processes have created unique morphological forms, which have generated a major diversity for edaphic and hydrogeologic conditions. Surficial or sub-surficial mass-transport deposits have been documented by seismic and high-resolution morpho-bathymetric data and have displayed a dense aggregation of detached blocks spread over 1,200 km2. The distribution of CWC habitats has been mapped across the entire surveyed area, through the support of ROV videos and several cores and grab samples. Living Cold-Water Coral (CWC) communities populate the blocky region and form coral topped mounds. These habitats are important Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems that are exposed to human pressure in the deep sea environment.

Credits: Marine GeoLab – ULR CoNISMa Milano-Bicocca. The data were collected and analyzed in the framework of the EU FP7 project CoralFish (Ecosystem-based management of corals, fish and fisheries in the deep waters of Europe and beyond, and the national project MAGIC (Mapping Geohazard along the Italian Coasts –


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