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Authors: Fracassi, U.*
Vannoli, P.*
Burrato, P.*
Basili, R.*
Tiberti, M. M.*
Di Bucci, D.*
Valensise, G.*
Title: From extension to trascurrence: regime transition as a new key to interpret seismogenesis in the southern Apennines (Italy)
Issue Date: 10-Dec-2006
Keywords: seismogenic sources
southern Apennines
Abstract: The backbone of the Southern Apennines is perhaps the largest seismic moment release area in Italy. The region is dominated by an extensional regime dating back to the Middle Pleistocene, with maximum extension striking SW-NE (i.e. orthogonal to the mountain belt). The full length (~ 200 km) of the mountain range has been the locus of several destructive earthquakes occurring in the uppermost 10-12 km of the crust. This seismicity is due to a well documented normal faulting mechanism. Instrumental earthquakes (e.g. 5 May 1990, 31 Oct 2002, 1 Nov 2002; all M 5.8) that have occurred in the foreland, east of the Southern Apennines, have posed new questions concerning seismogenic processes in southern Italy. Although of moderate magnitude, these events unveiled the presence of E-W striking, deeper (13-25 km) strike-slip faults. Recent studies suggest that these less known faults belong to inherited shear zones with a multi-phase tectonic history, the most recent phase being a right-lateral reactivation. The direction of the maximum horizontal extension of these faults (in a transcurrent regime) coincides with the maximum horizontal extension in the core of the Southern Apennines (in an extensional regime) and both are compatible with the general framework provided by the Africa-Europe convergence. However, the regional extent along strike of the E-W shear zones poses the issue of their continuity from the foreland towards the thrust-belt. The 1456 (M 6.9) and 1930 (M 6.7) earthquakes, that occurred just east of the main extensional axis, were caused by faults having a strike intermediate between the E-W, deeper strike-slip faults in the foreland and the NW-SE-trending, shallower normal faults in the extensional belt. Hence, the location and geometry of these seismogenic sources suggests that there could be a transition zone between the crustal volumes affected by the extensional and transcurrent regimes. To image such transition, we built a 3D model that incorporates data available from surface and subsurface geology (published and unpublished), seismogenic faults, seismicity, focal mechanisms, and gravity anomalies. We explored the mechanisms of fault interaction in the Southern Apennines between the extensional upper portion and the transcurrent deeper portion of the seismogenic layer. In particular, we studied (a) how the reactivation of regional shear zones interacts with an adjacent, although structurally independent, extensional belt; (b) at what depth range the interaction occurs; and (c1) whether oblique slip in earthquakes like the 1930 event is merely due to the geometry of the causative fault, or (c2) such geometry and kinematics are the result of oblique slip due to fault interaction. We propose that (a) the 1456 and 1930 earthquakes are the expression of the transition between the two tectonic regimes, and that (b) these events can be seen as templates of the seismogenic oblique-slip faulting that occurs at intermediate depths between the shallower extensional faults and the deeper strike-slip faults. These findings suggest that a transtensional faulting mechanism governs the release of major earthquakes in the transition zone between extensional and transcurrent domains.
Appears in Collections:Manuscripts
Conference materials
04.04.09. Structural geology
04.04.03. Geomorphology
04.07.07. Tectonics
04.04.01. Earthquake geology and paleoseismology

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