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 Enrico Santoro,1 Luigi Ferranti,1 Pierfrancesco Burrato,2 Maria Enrica Mazzella,1 and Carmelo Monaco3


 Deformed Pleistocene marine terraces along the Ionian Sea margin of southern Italy: Unveiling blind fault-related folds contribution to coastal uplift


 1 Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università di Napoli “Federico II”, Naples, Italy.

2 Istituto Nazionale di Geosica e Vulcanologia, Rome, Italy.

3 Dipartimento di Scienze Geologiche, Università di Catania, Catania, Italy


Tectonics - Volume 32Issue 3pages 737–762June 2013

 DOI: 10.1002/tect.20036



 Morphotectonic analysis and fault numeric modeling of uplifted marine terraces along the Ionian Sea coast of the Southern Apennines allowed us to place quantitative constraints on Middle Pleistocene-Holocene deformation. Ten terrace orders uplifted to as much as +660 m were mapped along ~80 km of the Taranto Gulf coastline. The shorelines document both a regional and a local, fault-induced contribution to uplift. The intermingling between the two deformation sources is attested by three 10 km-scale undulations superimposed on a 100-km scale northeastward tilt. The undulations spatially coincide with the trace of NW-SE striking transpressional faults that affected the coastal range during the Early Pleistocene. To test whether fault activity continued to the present, we modeled the differential uplift of marine terraces as progressive elastic displacement above blind oblique-thrust ramps seated beneath the coast. Through an iterative and mathematically based procedure we defined the best geometric and kinematic fault parameters as well as the number and position of fault segments. Fault numerical models predict two fault-propagation folds cored by blind thrusts with slip rates ranging from 0.5 to 0.7 mm/a and capable of generating an earthquake with a maximum moment magnitude of 5.9-6.3. Notably, we find that the locus of predominant activity has repeatedly shifted between the two fault systems during time, and that slip rates on each fault have temporally changed. It is not clear if the active deformation is seismogenic or dominated by aseismic creep; however, the modeled faults are embedded in an offshore transpressional belt that may have sourced historical earthquakes.

Deformed Pleistocene marine terraces


Figure 1. Tectonic map of the frontal Southern Apennines in the Calabria-Lucania sector.


Key Points

  • Blind transpressive faults deform Middle - Late Pleistocene marine terraces
  • Fault activity shifted between two transpressive fault systems
  • Slip rates of individual faults changed through time