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Authors: Boncio, P.* 
Mancini, A.* 
Lavecchia, G.* 
Selvaggi, G.* 
Title: Seismotectonics of strike–slip earthquakes within the deep crust of southern Italy: Geometry, kinematics, stress field and crustal rheology of the Potenza 1990–1991 seismic sequences (Mmax 5.7)
Issue Date: Dec-2007
Series/Report no.: 3-4/445 (2007)
DOI: 10.1016/j.tecto.2007.08.016
Keywords: Strike–slip seismicity;
Deep crust;
Active stress;
Crustal rheology;
Southern Apennines
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.07. Tectonophysics::04.07.07. Tectonics 
Abstract: We present a revision and a seismotectonic interpretation of deep crust strike–slip earthquake sequences that occurred in 1990– 1991 in the Southern Apennines (Potenza area). The revision is motivated by: i) the striking similarity to a seismic sequence that occurred in 2002 ∼140 km NNW, in an analogous tectonic context (Molise area), suggesting a common seismotectonic environment of regional importance; ii) the close proximity of such deep strike–slip seismicity with shallow extensional seismicity (Apennine area); and iii) the lack of knowledge about the mechanical properties of the crust that might justify the observed crustal seismicity. A comparison between the revised 1990–1991 earthquakes and the 2002 earthquakes, as well as the integration of seismological data with a rheological analysis offer new constraints on the regional seismotectonic context of crustal seismicity in the Southern Apennines. The seismological revision consists of a relocation of the aftershock sequences based on newly constrained velocity models. New focal mechanisms of the aftershocks are computed and the active state of stress is constrained via the use of a stress inversion technique. The relationships among the observed seismicity, the crustal structure of the Southern Apennines, and the rheological layering are analysed along a crustal section crossing southern Italy, by computing geotherms and two-mechanism (brittle frictional vs. ductile plastic strength) rheological profiles. The 1990–1991 seismicity is concentrated in a well-defined depth range (mostly between 15 and 23 km depths). This depth range corresponds to the upper pat of the middle crust underlying the Apulian sedimentary cover, in the footwall of the easternmost Apennine thrust system. The 3D distribution of the aftershocks, the fault kinematics, and the stress inversion indicate the activation of a right-lateral strike–slip fault striking N100°E under a stress field characterized by a sub-horizontal N142°-trending σ1 and a sub-horizontal N232°-trending σ3, very similar to the known stress field of the Gargano seismic zone in the Apulian foreland. The apparent anomalous depths of the earthquakes (N15 km) and the confinement within a relatively narrow depth range are explained by the crustal rheology, which consists of a strong brittle layer at mid crustal depths sandwiched between two plastic horizons. This articulated rheological stratification is typical of the central part of the Southern Apennine crust, where the Apulian crust is overthrusted by Apennine units. Both the Potenza 1990–1991 and the Molise 2002 seismic sequences can be interpreted to be due to crustal E–W fault zones within the Apulian crust inherited from previous tectonic phases and overthrusted by Apennine units during the Late Pliocene–Middle Pleistocene. The present strike–slip tectonic regime reactivated these fault zones and caused them to move with an uneven mechanical behaviour; brittle seismogenic faulting is confined to the strong brittle part of the middle crust. This strong brittle layer might also act as a stress guide able to laterally transmit the deviatoric stresses responsible for the strike–slip regime in the Apulian crust and may explain the close proximity (nearly overlapping) of the strike–slip and normal faulting regimes in the Southern Apennines. From a methodological point of view, it seems that rather simple two-mechanism rheological profiles, though affected by uncertainties, are still a useful tool for estimating the rheological properties and likely seismogenic behaviour of the crust.
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