BEEE project (BioEngineering/Erosion Experiment)

ENG: The BioEngineering/Erosion Experiment wants to assess and quantify the processes of bioerosion and bioengineering taking place in a Coralligenous environment. The aim is to observe whether or not the substrate has a significance in the colonisation and bioerosion of the organism inhabiting the Coralligenous reef.

To do so we have deployed a series of experimental blocks of the same size but of different materials in the Marzamemi coralligenous area. The materials used are: Granite, Travertine and Marble.

The blocks will simulate the substrate where bioengineers and bioeroder will attach. Before the deployment we have scanned with a microCT machine the various blocks in order to have a baseline to compare them at the end of the experiment.

The blocks are anchored to the seafloor and will remain there for one year.

During this time SCUBA divers (of the SUTTAKKUA DIVING) are monitoring the state of colonisation.

Here are some pictures of the state of the experiment after 8 months.

Site of the experiment (Marzamemi, Sicilia); Off the coast of Marzamemi village. Position of the experiment (red dot).
Three tiles (one for each material) will be attached to a concrete block (for a total of three blocks) with a steel support and one/two bolt/s. The tiles are held vertically in order to reduce orientation effects. A) schematic of the deployment block with the tiles. B) try-out of the deployment (the tiles depicted are not the ones that will be deployed during the experiment).

ITA: L’esperimento di Bioingegneria/erosione vuole valutare e quantificare i processi di bioerosione e bioingegneria che avvengono in un ambiente Coralligeno. L’obiettivo è quello di osservare se il substrato ha o meno un significato nella colonizzazione e nella bioerosione dell’organismo che abita la barriera corallina.

Per farlo abbiamo dispiegato una serie di blocchi sperimentali della stessa dimensione ma di materiali diversi nell’area del coralligeno di Marzamemi. I materiali utilizzati sono: Granito, Travertino e Marmo.

I blocchi simuleranno il substrato su cui si attaccheranno i bioingegneri e i bioeroder. Prima del posizionamento abbiamo scansionato con una macchina microCT i vari blocchi in modo da avere una linea di base per confrontarli alla fine dell’esperimento.

I blocchi sono ancorati al fondale marino e vi rimarranno per un anno.

In questo periodo i subacquei SCUBA (del SUTTAKKUA DIVING) stanno monitorando lo stato di colonizzazione.

Ecco alcune immagini dello stato dell’esperimento dopo 8 mesi.


Rome __ 14-20 July 2023

ENG: From 14 to 20 July the INQUA (International Union for Quaternary Research) will be held in Rome. During this congress there will be a stand held by our team members in which they will present part of the work carried out by CresciBluReef. You will have the opportunity to see the ROV designed by the engineering team. In addition to the technological part, you will obviously find posters and materials on display regarding our research. There will be the possibility of interacting with some members present too.

ITA: Dal 14 al 20 Luglio p.v. si terrà a Roma l’INQUA (International Union for Quaternary Research). Durante questo congresso ci sarà uno stand tenuto dai membri del nostro team in cui presenteranno parte dei lavori portati avanti dal CresciBluReef. Avrete la possibilità di vedere il ROV progettato dal gruppo di ingegneria. Oltre alla parte tecnologica ovviamente troverete esposti poster e materiali che riguardano le nostre ricerche. Ci sarà anche la possibilità di interagire con alcuni membri presenti.


MARZAMEMI 27-28 Giungo 2023

ENG: The last sampling campaign took place in Marzamemi on 27 and 28 June. The activities carried out by the team coordinated by Prof. Adriano Guido were aimed at sampling the water columns on the verticals of the points where the CBR_2_3_7C and CBR_2_4_21C bioconstructions were taken during the previous campaigns.

The activities are part of the FISR CresciBluReef – Grown in the blue: new technologies for knowledge and conservation of Mediterranean reefs project, which involves three Italian universities: University of Milano-Bicocca, University of Calabria and University of Catania.

The researchers involved have different skills, ranging from geomicrobiology to water geochemistry. The sampling is aimed at the geochemical characterization of water at different depths from the surface and in direct contact with the bioconstructions. The aim is to identify possible geochemical proxies which are fractionated in the bioconstructions in equilibrium with the average composition of the water and which can be used as environmental tracers.

ITA: I giorni 27 e 28 giugno scorsi si è svolta l’ultima campagna di campionamento a Marzamemi. Le attività svolte dal team coordinato dal Prof. Adriano Guido sono state finalizzate al campionamento delle colonne d’acqua sulle verticali dei punti in cui sono state prelevate le biocostruzioni CBR_2_3_7C e CBR_2_4_21C durante le campagne precedenti.

Le attività fanno parte del profetto FISR CresciBluReef – Grown in the blue: new technologies for knowledge and conservation of Mediterranean reefs, che coinvolge tre università italiane: Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Università della Calabria e Università degli Studi di Catania.

I ricercatori coinvolti hanno competenze che vanno dalla geomicrobiologia alla geochimica delle acque e la campionatura è mirata alla caratterizzazione geochimica delle acque a diverse profondità dalla superficie e a diretto contatto con le biocostruzioni. Lo scopo è quello di individuare possibili proxy geochimici che vengono frazionati nelle biocostruzioni in equilibrio con la composizione media delle acque e che possono essere utilizzati come traccianti ambientali.


Lecce (6) 7-9 June

ENG: Our Cresciblureef fellows Gemma Donato, Gianmarco and Francesco took part in PALEODAYS held in Lecce from 6 to 9 June. The congress had 115 participants from all over Italy and abroad, who presented 56 oral communications and 38 posters. To welcome the participants, the Organizing Committee has organised, for the afternoon of 6 June, a guided tour of the historic center of Lecce and a welcome aperitif (icebreaker party) at the Rectorate of the University of Salento. The pre-congress Round Table of the PaiP (Palaeontologist in Progress), dedicated to SPI unstructured young people and enthusiasts, was held at the MAUS.

The program included two days (June 7 and 9) dedicated to oral presentations and posters, with the space for posters set up at the MAUS; the social dinner was held on the 7th evening in the Rectorate. While the excursion took place on 8 June, with a visit to important paleontological sites in the Salento area: the complex of the Pietra Leccese quarries of Cursi-Melpignano; the Decio de Lorentiis Museum of Paleontology and Paletnology in Maglie; the former bauxite quarries of Otranto; the Oligocene calcarenites with carpets of rhodolites and macroforaminifera facies in the inlet of Porto Badisco; the Oligocene with corals of Calcare di Castro in the area of Grotta Zinzulusa.

The XXIII edition of the Paleontology Days took place at the Ecotekne University Campus and the Environment Museum of the University of Salento (MAUS).



ITA: I nostri borsisti Cresciblureef Gemma Donato, Gianmarco e Francesco hanno partecipato al PALEODAYS tenutosi a Lecce dal 6 al 9 giugno scorsi. Il congresso ha avuto 115 partecipanti da tutta Italia e dall’estero, che hanno presentato 56 comunicazioni orali e 38 poster. Per dare il benvenuto ai congressisti, il Comitato Organizzatore ha organizzato, per il pomeriggio del 6 giugno, una visita guidata del Centro Storico di Lecce e un aperitivo di benvenuto (icebreaker party) presso il Rettorato dell’Università del Salento. La Tavola Rotonda pre-congresso del PaiP (Palaeontologist in Progress), dedicata ai giovani non strutturati della SPI e agli appassionati, si è svolta al MAUS. Il programma ha previsto due giornate (7 e 9 giugno) dedicate alle presentazioni orali e ai poster, con lo spazio per i poster allestito presso il MAUS; la cena sociale si è svolta il 7 sera all’interno del Rettorato. Mentre l’8 giugno si è svolta l’escursione, con la visita ad importanti siti paleontologici del territorio salentino: il complesso delle cave di Pietra Leccese di Cursi-Melpignano; il Museo di Paleontologia e Paletnologia Decio de Lorentiis di Maglie; le ex-cave di bauxite di Otranto; le calcareniti oligoceniche con tappeti di rodoliti e facies a macroforaminiferi nell’insenatura di Porto Badisco; l’Oligocene a coralli del Calcare di Castro nella zona di Grotta Zinzulusa.

La XXIII edizione delle Giornate di Paleontologia si è svolta presso il Campus Universitario Ecotekne e il Museo dell’Ambiente dell’Università del Salento (MAUS).

The participants of the XXIII Paleontology Days (photo by S. Dominici)

European Geoscience Union

The European Geoscience Union or (EGU) is an interdisciplinary association open to all those who have a professional role in earth sciences, planetology, space sciences and related studies. The EGU aims to provide a forum for discussion between experts in all fields of geosciences.

Every year its General Assembly is held in Vienna which in 2023 took place from 23 to 28 April and saw the participation of 18831 scientists, from over 100 different countries.

During the Assembly, the work of the Cresci Blu Reef team was also presented, with the presence or virtual participation of numerous members of the project.

The works presented were the following:

Ecosystem engineers and biogeomorphology of the Mediterranean algal reef Coralligenous: Daniela Basso, Valentina Alice Bracchi, Pietro Bazzicalupo, Marco Bertolino, Fabio Bruno, Mara Cipriani, Gabriele Costa, Francesco D’Alpa, Gemma Donato, Luca Fallati, Adriano Guido, Maurizio Muzzupappa, Rossana Sanfilippo, Alessandra Savini, Francesco Sciuto, Andrea Giulia Varzi, and Antonietta Rosso

Ocean liming in eutrophic water: a mesocosm scale approach: Daniela Basso, Arianna Azzellino, Piero Macchi, Chiara Santinelli, Emilio Fernández, Pablo Serret, Giancarlo Bachi, Giovanni Checcucci, Alexandra Diaz, Eva Teira, Guido Raos, Silvia Valsecchi, Selene Varliero, Pietro Bazzicalupo, Karen Gariboldi, and Jose Gonzalez

Novel investigative techniques on calcareous red algae build-ups: photogrammetry and CT-scan on Coralligenous from Marzamemi (Sicily): Pietro Bazzicalupo, Valentina Alice Bracchi, Andrea Giulia Varzi, Luca Fallati, Alessandra Savini, Antonietta Rosso, Rossana Sanfilippo, Adriano Guido, Mara Cipriani, and Daniela Maria Basso

Underwater Scuba Photogrammetry VS. MBES Acoustic Sounding: how to integrate multiscale data for a better understanding of Coralligenous outcrops: Andrea Giulia Varzi, Luca Fallati, Alessandra Savini, Pietro Bazzicalupo, Valentina Alice Bracchi, and Daniela Basso

A pinnacle-like structure dominated by the chemosymbiotic bivalve Thyasira from the Arctic Sea: Marta Riva, Valentina Alice Bracchi, Claudio Argentino, Alessandra Savini, Luca Fallati, Giuliana Panieri, and Daniela Basso

Multi-specific calibration of the B isotope proxy in calcareous red algae for pH reconstruction: Giulia Piazza, Eduardo Paredes, Valentina Alice Bracchi, Leopoldo David Pena, Jason M. Hall-Spencer, Chiara Ferrara, Isabel Cacho, and Daniela Basso

The results of the works were presented and discussed within the huge and welcoming European geological community! Now the activities continue for the CresciBluReef team as it prepares for the summer samplings and other conferences. See you next year, again in Vienna, for the European Geoscience Union!

New publication “Mollusk Thanatocoenoses Unravel the Diversity of #Heterogeneous Rhodolith Beds (Italy, Tyrrhenian Sea)”

!! NEW SCIENTIFIC PAPER on #DiversityMDPI by Valentina Alice Bracchi, Agostino Niyonkuru Meroni, Vivien Epis and Daniela Basso !!

“Mollusk Thanatocoenoses Unravel the Diversity of Heterogeneous Rhodolith Beds (Italy, Tyrrhenian Sea)”

In this research, we studied three distinct rhodolith beds from the Tyrrhenian Sea (Italy), in a range between 40 and 100 m of water depth, together with their mollusk thanatocoenoses, sediment size, and oceanographic conditions.


Here’s the link to read the article:

Keywords: rhodolith bedsmorphotypemolluskthanatocoenosisshapegrain sizecurrentsMediterranean benthic bionomicsenvironmental gradienthabitat heterogeneity

Oceano aMICO2


In Milan, for the first time, two important academic institution (Università Milano-Bicocca and Politecnico di Milano) are teaming together to host the Oceano aMICO2 event. This is a divulgative event on CO2 reduction strategies centered around the Ocean. The theme is extremely relevant and the strategies discussed may shape the new mitigation of current climate change scenarios.

In the flyer you will find the link to subscribe to the event.

The initiative is open to everyone including school teachers, students and curious!

The initiative will be in Italian

here’s the link to follow the event remotely:

EGU 2023

The CresciBlu team was in Wien for the EGU 2023 conference! During this time we have presented some of our work so far and shared our results with the huge and welcoming European Geological community! It was a blast!


Everybody was in Milano-Bicocca for the work-in-progress meeting of the CBR project. Extremely happy and satisfied for all the work! Stay tuned for the next updates!

People from Left to Right, First Row: Prof. Marco Bertolino (UniGe), Prof. Daniela Basso (Unimib, project leader), Prof. Antonietta Rosso (UniCT), Prof. Rossana Sanfilippo (UniCT), Dr. Valentina Bracchi (Unimib), Dr. Pietro Bazzicalupo (Unimib).

Second Row: Ada Bandi (UniGe), Prof. Alessandra Savini (Unimib), Dr. Alessandro Gallo (UniCal), Prof. Adriano Guido (UniCal), Dr. Antonio Lagudi (UniCal), Dr. Mara Cipriani (UniCal), Gemma Donato (UniCT), Prof. Fabio Bruno (UniCal).


During the coring operation, high stability is required due to the brittleness of the coralligenous samples.  In order to reach this stability, the ROV has to be firmly anchored to the reef surface. Hence, we designed an ad hoc anchoring system by testing different types of screw: the common ones used for wood, self-drilling screws, and finally drill bits commonly used for concrete and metals. The first two options failed because an excessive axial force was needed and the resulting thread was not able to withstand enough pulling force. Instead, the last option seemed to be the best since it allows easier penetration in the material. Then, a specifically designed test rig was used to find the current consumption and the axial thrust required to penetrate in the coralligenous sample.

Figure 1 – Wood screw testing.
Figure 2 – Drilling data acquisition.
Figure 3 – Drill test rig.

However, drill bits alone are not sufficient to assure vertical force resistance so we are going to mate them with a rubber expansion sleeve. Once the holes are made, a mechanism is going to move up just the tip of the screws that is opportunely constrained to it by a sphere on the top. Hence, each rubber sleeve is going to be compressed and will expand providing sufficient grip with the sidewalls of the holes.

Specific tests already validated such a system but we cannot wait to try it underwater!

Figure 4 – Rubber sleeves working sequence: (left) the drill bit penetrates into coralligenous; (center) the mechanism pulls up the drill tip; (right) the rubber sleeve expands on the sidewalls.
Figure 5 – Rubber sleeve system pulling test.