LithoMar - Assessing the relationships between lithospheric processes and seafloor topography at oceanic hotspots and divergent margins – is a new Task Force (TF) established under the auspices of the International Lithosphere Program (ILP - for 2021-2025.

LithoMar will promote actions devoted to investigate to what extent endogenic processes (tectonics, volcanism, and fluid flow circulation) at submarine divergent margins and oceanic hotspots affect and interact with exogenic processes, over long- and short-term spatio-temporal scales, with a focus on deep-sea sedimentary processes and best practices in terms of technologies and methodological approaches.


The imprint of deep processes in the resulting landforms and even on patterns of deformation with attendant hazards, has been mostly recognised and documented indeed over large spatio-temporal scales, and a comprehensive understanding regarding to what extent even spatially smaller and temporally shorter endogenous processes affect the submarine landforms is still missing. In addition, still there’s a consistent gap in clarifying processes in terms of magnitude and frequency in their occurrences, which is of great relevance especially for geohazard assessment.


The TF is is structured in five different Work-Packages (WP):

WP1: Volcano-tectonic: The lithosphere and endogenic processes over a wide range of spatio-temporal scales (led by A. Tibaldi).

WP2: Submarine geomorphology: The lithosphere and its interactions with submarine geomorphic processes (led by A. Micallef)

WP3: Fluid-flow circulation: The lithosphere and fluid circulation through rocks and sediment in the subseafloor (led by P. Nomikou)

WP4: Habitat mapping: The lithosphere and the distribution of benthic habitats (led by A. Savini)

WP5: Seafloor mapping: ad-hoc technologies and methodological approaches for all WPs (led by S. Krastel).


Although the connection between the proposed WPs is indisputable, their complexity makes very difficult to address them jointly, unless by favouring the dialogue between various scientists with diverse skills and creating a multidisciplinary network. LithoMar would therefore aim to organize international teams of scientists that will work in collaboration on structural geology and deep-sea sedimentary processes, laboratory and numerical studies, combined with stratigraphic, geochemical, geophysical and geochronological methods, to more precisely understand the complex interplay between geomorphic processes in the submarine realm, and in turn decipher their frequency and magnitude. A new networking among several research groups with diverse expertise, is therefore the key of the LithoMar TF to contribute to the development of multidisciplinary knowledge on the interactions between endogenous and underwater surface processes at oceanic hotspots and divergent margins.


Networking will basically promote:  

- Dissemination of information regarding open project meetings, scientific events, training schools and outreach activities related to the project topic.

- The organization of thematic workshops and session proposals to international conferences (EGU/AGU among others).

- The identification of on-shore and/or off-shore field campaigns in key regions to answering questions associated with lithosphere evolution and its effect on submarine geomorphic processes (at different spatio/temporal scales).

- Planning, preparation, and submission of national and international projects dealing with the project topic.