CBR16 – when it took place

The campaign initially scheduled for the period from the end of August to the beginning of September was postponed repeatedly due to adverse weather and sea conditions. The scientific staff (D. Basso, P. Bazzicalupo, F. Panizzuti, A. Rosso, f. D’Alpa) went to Marzamemi from 28 October to 4 November 2023 for the last campaign of the project.

The main objective was the collection of coralligenous samples at 50 meters, collection of algae samples for genetics, fluximeter recovery, sediment traps and growth experiment blocks recovery.

Sampling and collection of equipment and material was carried out by Suttakkua Diving members.

Two 250ml bottles of sediment (CBR16_5) were also collected.

Prof. Daniela Basso sulla barca di Suttakkua diving
Prof. Daniela Basso on board of Suttakkua diving vessel
Foto scattata a 47.7 m durante la perlustrazione pre campionamento
Photo taken at 47.7 m during the pre-sampling survey

The main result was achieved with the recovery of 2 coralligenous samples. The algal material for the genetic analyses was also recovered, finally the fluximeter and the sedimentation traps were also recovered. Unfortunately it was not possible to recover the blocks for the growth experiment due to adverse sea conditions.

Dr. Pietro Bazzicalupo e Prof. Daniela Basso observation on the coralligenous sample collected at 47m
Dr. Pietro Bazzicalupo e Prof. Daniela Basso observation on the coralligenous sample collected at 47m
Dr. Francesca Panizuti photographs the samples before the collection
Dr. Francesca Panizuti photographs the samples before the collection
Fluximeter recovered
Fluximeter recovered
Ascent stop during the sample collection
Ascent stop during the sample collection

The samples collected during this specific campaign will be used by Dr. Francesca Panizzuti in the next 3 years for her doctoral thesis on thecalcareous algae Corallinophycidae of the Mediterranean Coralligenus. We are excited and can’t wait to see the first results of this study.

Dr. Panizzuti classify the samples
Dr. Panizzuti classify the samples

SCIENTIFIC PAPER: “Origin and role of non-skeletal carbonate in coralligenous build-ups: new geobiological perspectives in the biomineralization processes”

Mara Cipriani, Carmine Apollaro, Daniela Basso, Pietro Bazzicalupo, Marco Bertolino, Valentina Alice Bracchi, Fabio Bruno, Gabriele Costa, Rocco Dominici, Alessandro Gallo, Maurizio Muzzupappa, Antonietta Rosso, Rossana Sanfilippo, Francesco Sciuto, Giovanni Vespasiano, Adriano Guido

!! SCIENTIFIC PAPER PUBLISHED IN Biogeosciences discussions (EGU) !!

!! The coralligenous build-ups located in Mediterranean shelf in front of Marzamemi (SE – Sicily, Italy) represent useful natural examples to study the relationship between skeletal organisms and non-skeletal components in marine bioconstructions. In this study, scientists characterized two coralligenous build-ups in terms of organisms and sediments involved in their formation. The framework mainly consists of coralline algae and subordinate bryozoans and serpulids. Sponges affect the general morphology of the bioconstructions both interacting with skeletonised organisms and through bioerosion activity.

Scientists understood that the micrite or microcrystalline calcite is present in minor amount than other components that form the build-ups and consists of two types: autochthonous (in situ) and allochthonous (detrital). Moreover, a great amount of sponge live in cavities of the coralligenous build-ups and compete with carbonatogenic bacteria for the same cryptic spaces limiting the production of microbialites. The sharing of a similar relationship between sponges and microbial communities by coralligenous concretion and biotic crusts of particular submarine caves suggests that this competition is not habitat-specific. !!

Keywords: Coralligenous reefs; Sponges; Micrites; Geobiology; Mediterranean.




CBR15 – when it took place

From 10 to 13 October the second test campaign of the remote-controlled vehicle for coralligenous sampling was carried out. Testing the ultimate updates has been the main objective of the campaign. During the last tests, done in July, several issues mainly regarding power supply emerged and caused frequent ROV power failure. These problems affected the whole test operation during which we were able to extract only one sample. Moreover, the lack of a protective frame for core carrel magazine caused some collisions between barrels themselves and coralligenous build-ups during the anchoring and the tool changing phase. Lastly, throughout post operation inspections, the corer frame main plate and the anchoring plate were found slightly bent due to mechanical stress during transport and core drilling.


In account of power supply problems, a 3 kW-3 Wh portable power station, with an expansion 3 Wh LiFePO4 battery has been used. The total capacity of this power station provides an autonomy of 2 hours at full power. In addition, in order to prevent any impact among core barrel and surrounding build-ups, an anodized aluminium plate has been installed beneath the barrel magazine. Eventually, both the anchoring plate and the skid main plate were replaced by new ones having double the thickness of the old ones. These actions have led to an increase of the vehicle weight (9 kg in air and 5 kg in water) requiring the ROV ballast removal.

During the entire campaign a faulty commercial cable penetrator caused water leaks in the core drill control electronics canister. Due to this, some of the device functions, as the “double tube” mechanism, have been disabled. Nevertheless, several sample operations have been carried out at depth ranging from 30 to 37 meters resulting in 5 core samples.

Figure 1 – Repair work on electronics canister
Repair work on electronics canister.
Figure 2 – One of the core sample brought to the surface
One of the core sample brought to the surface
Figure 3 – ROV on-board view during core operation
On-board view during core operation (ROV)
Figure 4 – ROV on the Marzamemi seafloar
ROV on the Marzamemi seafloor
Figure 4.1 – ROV on the Marzamemi seafloar
Floating in the blue (ROV)

SCIENTIFIC PAPER: “The Bryozoan Margaretta cereoides as Habitat Formerm in the Coralligenous of Marzamemi (SE Sicily, Mediterranean Sea)”

Antonietta Rosso, Gemma Donato, Rossana Sanfilippo, Donatella Serio, Francesco Sciuto, Francesco D’Alpa, Valentina Alice Bracchi, Mauro Pietro Negri and Daniela Basso

!! SCIENTIFIC PAPER PUBLISHED IN Journal of Marine Science and Engineering !!

!! The present study focuses on the epibiosis found on the erect mineralised but flexible species Margaretta cereoides, contributing with some macroalgae to the canopy formation on a coralligenous build-up collected at 36.7 m depth offshore Marzamemi (Ionian Sea, Mediterranean) in the frame of the project CRESCIBLUREEF.

Focusing on bryozoans and serpulids we documented high diversity (species richness) on the investigated substrata. Diversity are higher on M. cereoides than on algae, possibly in relation with the morphology, robustness and persistence of the surface offered by the bryozoan contrasting with the flexible and ephemeral nature of most algae. Bryozoan and even more serpulid epibiont diversity on M. cereoides is also higher than those reported for studied species in the Mediterranean and for Flustra foliacea from North Europe. !!

Keywords: epibiosis, biodiversity, serpulids, build-up, fleshy algae, Ionian Sea

DOI: 10.3390/jmse11030590


SCIENTIFIC PAPER: “The role of non-skeletal carbonate component in Mediterranean Coralligenous: new insight from the CRESCIBLUREEF project”

Mara Cipriani, Daniela Basso, Pietro Bazzicalupo, Marco Bertolino, Valentina Alice Bracchi, Fabio Bruno, Gabriele Costa, Rocco Dominici, Alessandro Gallo, Maurizio Muzzupappa, Antonietta Rosso, Francesco Perri, Rossana Sanfilippo, Francesco Sciuto& Adriano Guido

!! SCIENTIFIC PAPER PUBLISHED IN Rendiconti online della Società Geologica Italiana !!

!! This study, which took place within the FISR_04543 project “CRESCIBLUREEF – Grown in the blue: new technologies for the knowledge and conservation of Mediterranean coral reefs”, aims to present preliminary data on the ecological and depositional implications of micritic sediments in a coral bioconstruction formed along the Mediterranean platform in front of Marzamemi (Sicily, Italy). Crustose coralline algae are the main structure, which create the right substrate for a very diversified epi- and infaunal community. Two types of microcrystalline calcite are found, allochthonous and indigenous. The alien ones derive from the abiotic accumulation of fine sediments in the cavities of the structure. The native one is deposited in situ through processes mediated by organic elements. A possible contribution of the non-skeletal carbonate to the strengthening of the primary skeleton can therefore be hypothesized. !!

Keywords: Coralligenous reef, bioconstruction, micrites, Ionian Sea



SCIENTIFIC PAPER: “Geomorphology of coralligenous reefs offshore southeastern Sicily (Ionian Sea)”

Andrea Giulia Varzi, Luca Fallati, Alessandra Savini, Valentina Alice Bracchi, Pietro Bazzicalupo, Antonietta Rosso, Rossana Sanfilippo, Marco Bertolino, Maurizio Muzzupappa & Daniela Basso

!! SCIENTIFIC PAPER IN Journal of maps !!

!! In this study we analyzed the coralligenous. The coralligenous includes calcareous accumulations of biogenic origin, formed since the Holocene transgression. The study area is located off the coast of the village of Marzamemi where we found columnar-shaped coralligenous outcrops . The “CresciBluReef” project has produced a new, 17 km2 high-resolution bathymetric map. Thanks to this map we have a greater knowledge of the extension of the coralligenous in this area, analyzed during this study. Coralligenous mostly occur along two depth ranges: 36–42 m and 86–102 m. Additional investigations are required to understand: (1) the role of the inherited continental shelf landscape, in creating a favorable substrate for the settlement and growth of coralligenous habitats during the Holocene, and (2) the extent to which coralligenous bioconstructions can impact the evolution of present-day continental shelf landforms and landscapes. !!

Keywords: Calcareous build-ups, submarine geomorphology, seascape, sea-level changes, biogeomorphology, Mediterranean sea



SCIENTIFIC PAPER: “Preliminary data on ostracods and foraminifers living on coralligenous bioconstructions Offshore Marzamemi (Ionian Sea, Se Sicily)”

Francesco Sciuto, Carla Altieri, Daniela Basso, Francesco D’Alpa, Gemma Donato, Valentina Alice Bracchi, Mara Cipriani, Adriano Guido, Antonietta Rosso, Rossana Sanfilippo, Donatella Serio, Alfio Viola

!! SCIENTIFIC PAPER IN Revue de micropaleontologie !!

!! The present study aims to be the first attempt to analyze the composition and structure of microfaunas associated with bioconstructions in an area located along the Ionian coast of south-eastern Sicily off the coast of Marzamemi (SR, Italy). At the bottom of the circalittoral area of the Mediterranean Sea, predominantly calcareous algae and subordinately bryozoans, sponges and serpulids give rise to bioconstructions called Coralligeno (algal barrier). The coral reef represents a hot-spot of biodiversity on the seabed. The samples were taken between 33 and 37 meters deep using a sorbone. Ostracods and foraminifera do not participate in the construction of the coralligenous but significantly increase the degree of biodiversity. !!

Keywords: Algal bioconstruction, Ostracoda, Foraminifera, Ionian Sea, Sicily (SE)



SCIENTIFIC PAPER: “The Main Builders of Mediterranean Coralligenous: 2D and 3D Quantitative Approaches for its Identification”

Valentina Alice Bracchi, Pietro Bazzicalupo, Luca Fallati, Andrea Giulia Varzi, Alessandra Savini, Mauro Pietro Negri, Antonietta Rosso, Rossana Sanfilippo, Adriano Guido, Marco Bertolino, Gabriele Costa, Elena De Ponti, Riccardo Leonardi, Maurizio Muzzupappa & Daniela Basso

!! SCIENTIFIC PAPER IN Frontiers in Earth Science !!

!! This research carried out along the Mediterranean Sea platform studies algal reefs made up of crustose coralline algae, also known as Coralligenous. It’s one of the most important ecosystems of the Mediterranean Sea in terms of extension, complexity and heterogeneity, supporting a very high level of biodiversity. The results confirm the primary role of crustose coralline algae as the main builders of the Mediterranean coralligenous. This aspect coincides with the evidence from the Quaternary fossil record. The role of encrusting calcareous red algae in the coralligen is important for conservation and management policies. !!

Keywords: algal reef, bioconstruction, crustose coralline algae, framework, Marzamemi

DOI: 10.3389/feart.2022.910522


Novel robotic technologies for mapping and sampling the Mediterranean Coralligenous

CRESCIBLUREEF project has been presented by Fabio Bruno (UNICAL) at the Breaking the Surface (BTS). BTS is an international workshop of maritime robotics and applications. Since 2009, BTS has served as a meeting place for international experts, university professors, scientists, industry representatives and students from various fields related to marine robotics and its applications in biology, geology, archaeology, etc.

The invited talk given by Prof. Bruno has been focused on the novel minimally invasive monitoring and sampling technologies developed in CRESCIBLUREEF by the University of Calabria team that have been implemented on an innovative ROV equipped with an optical system capable of interactively reconstruct the 3D morphology of the seabed and a robotic coring system able to directly collect sample of the coralligenous. The presentation has described the different technical problems that have been solved and the results of the first sea trails.