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International Ocean Discovery Program
Expedition 381 Scientific Prospectus

Corinth Active Rift Development1

Lisa McNeill

Co-Chief Scientist

Ocean and Earth Science

National Oceanography Centre Southampton

University of Southampton

United Kingdom

Donna Shillington

Co-Chief Scientist

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Columbia University


Gareth Carter

ESO Expedition Project Manager

British Geological Survey

The Lyell Centre

Heriot Watt University

United Kingdom

Published October 2017

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Continental rifting is fundamental for the formation of ocean basins, and active rift zones are dynamic regions of high geohazard potential. However, much of what we know from the fault to plate scale is poorly constrained and is not resolved at any level of spatial or temporal detail over a complete rift system. For International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 381, we propose drilling within the active Corinth rift, Greece, where deformation rates are high, the synrift succession is preserved and accessible, and a dense, seismic database provides high-resolution imaging, with limited chronology, of the fault network and of seismic stratigraphy for the recent rift history. In Corinth, we can therefore achieve an unprecedented precision of timing and spatial complexity of rift-fault system development and rift-controlled drainage system evolution in the first 1–2 My of rift history. We propose to determine at a high temporal and spatial resolution how faults evolve, how strain is distributed, and how the landscape responds within the first few million years in a nonvolcanic continental rift, as modulated by Quaternary changes in sea level and climate. High horizontal spatial resolution (1–3 km) is provided by a dense grid of seismic profiles offshore that have been recently fully integrated and are complemented by extensive outcrops onshore. High temporal resolution (~20–50 ky) will be provided by seismic stratigraphy tied to new core and log data from three carefully located boreholes to sample the recent synrift sequence.

Two primary themes are addressed by the proposed drilling integrated with the seismic database and onshore data. First, we will examine fault and rift evolutionary history (including fault growth, strain localization, and rift propagation) and deformation rates. The spatial scales and relative timing can already be determined within the seismic data offshore, and dating of drill core will provide the absolute timing offshore, the temporal correlation to the onshore data, and the ability to quantify strain rates. Second, we will study the response of drainage evolution and sediment supply to rift and fault evolution. Core data will define lithologies, depositional systems and paleoenvironment (including catchment paleoclimate), basin paleobathymetry, and relative sea level. Integrated with seismic data, onshore stratigraphy, and catchment data, we will investigate the relative roles and feedbacks between tectonics, climate, and eustasy in sediment flux and basin evolution. A multidisciplinary approach to core sampling integrated with log and seismic data will generate a Quaternary chronology for the synrift stratigraphy down to orbital timescale resolutions and will resolve the paleoenvironmental history of the basin in order to address our objectives.

1McNeill, L., Shillington, D., and Carter, G., 2017. Expedition 381 Scientific Prospectus: Corinth Active Rift Development. International Ocean Discovery Program.​10.14379/​iodp.sp.381.2017

This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.