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Authors: Faccenna, Claudio* 
Becker, Thorsten W.* 
Miller, Meghan* 
Serpelloni, Enrico* 
Willett, Sean* 
Title: Isostasy, dynamic topography, and the elevation of the Apennines of Italy
Journal: Earth and Planetary Science Letters 
Series/Report no.: /407 (2014)
Publisher: Elsevier
Issue Date: 2014
DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2014.09.027
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth
04.03. Geodesy 
Abstract: The elevation of an orogenic belt is commonly related to crustal/lithosphere thickening. Here, we discuss the Apennines as an example to show that topography at a plate margin may be controlled not only by isostatic adjustment but also by dynamic, mantle-driven processes. Using recent structural constraints for the crust and mantle we find that the expected crustal isostatic component explains only a fraction of the topography of the belt, indicating positive residual topography in the central Apennines and negative residual topography in the northern Apennines and Calabria. The trend of the residual topography matches the mantle flow induced dynamic topography estimated from regional tomography models. We infer that a large fraction of the Apennines topography is related to mantle dynamics, producing relative upwellings in the central Apennines and downwellings in the northern Apennines and Calabria where subduction is still ongoing. Comparison between geodetic and geological data on vertical motions indicates that this dynamic process started in the early Pleistocene and the resulting uplift appears related to the formation and enlargement of a slab window below the central Apennines. The case of the Apennines shows that at convergent margins the elevation of a mountain belt may be significantly different from that predicted solely by crustal isostasy and that a large fraction of the elevation and its rate of change are dynamically controlled by mantle convection.
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