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A. Ascione, S. Ciarcia, V. Di Donato, S. Mazzoli, S. Vitale


The Pliocene-Quaternary wedge-top basins of southern Italy: an expression of propagating lateral slab tear beneath the Apennines

Basin Research, 2012, 24, 456-474



bre534-fig-0010In recent years, contrasting seismic tomographic images have given rise to an extensive debate about the occurrence and implications of migrating slab detachment beneath southern Italy. One of the most pertinent aspects of this process is the concentration of the slab pull force, and particularly its surface expression in terms of vertical motions and related basin subsidence/uplift. In this study we focused on shallow-water to continental, Pliocene-Quaternary basins that formed on top of the Apennine allochthonous wedge after its emplacement onto a large foreland carbonate platform domain (Apulian Platform). Due to the thick-skinned style of deformation controlling the Pliocene-Pleistocene stages of continental shortening, a high degree of coupling with the downgoing plate appears to characterize the late tectonic evolution of the southern Apennines. Therefore, the wedge-top basins analysed in this study, although occurring on the deformed edge of the overriding plate, are capable of recording deep geodynamic processes affecting the slab. Detailed stratigraphic work on these wedge-top basins points to a progressive SE-ward migration of basin subsidence from c. 4 to c. 2.8 Ma over a distance of about 140 km along the strike of the Apennine belt. Such a migration is consistent with a redistribution of slab-pull forces associated with the progressive lateral migration at a mean rate in the range of 12–14 cm y–1 of a slab tear within the down-going Adriatic lithosphere. These results yield fundamental information on the rates of first-order geodynamic processes affecting the slab, and on related surface response.