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Authors: Speranza, F.* 
Villa, I. M.* 
Sagnotti, L.* 
Florindo, F.* 
Cosentino, D.* 
Cipollari, P.* 
Mattei, M.* 
Title: Age of the Corsica–Sardinia rotation and Liguro–Provençal Basin spreading: new paleomagnetic and Ar/Ar evidence
Issue Date: 1-Apr-2002
Series/Report no.: 4 / 347 (2002)
Keywords: Paleomagnetism
Liguro-Provençal Basin
Back-arc spreading
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.05. Geomagnetism::04.05.06. Paleomagnetism 
Abstract: The age of spreading of the Liguro–Provençal Basin is still poorly constrained due to the lack of boreholes penetrating the whole sedimentary sequence above the oceanic crust and the lack of a clear magnetic anomaly pattern. In the past, a consensus developed over a fast (20.5–19 Ma) spreading event, relying on old paleomagnetic data from Oligo–Miocene Sardinian volcanics showing a drift-related 30° counterclockwise (CCW) rotation. Here we report new paleomagnetic data from a 10-mthick lower–middle Miocene marine sedimentary sequence from southwestern Sardinia. Ar/Ar dating of two volcanoclastic levels in the lower part of the sequence yields ages of 18.94±0.13 and 19.20±0.12 Ma (lower–mid Burdigalian). Sedimentary strata below the upper volcanic level document a 23.3±4.6° CCW rotation with respect to Europe, while younger strata rapidly evolve to null rotation values. A recent magnetic overprint can be excluded by several lines of evidence, particularly by the significant difference between the in situ paleomagnetic and geocentric axial dipole (GAD) field directions. In both the rotated and unrotated part of the section, only normal polarity directions were obtained. As the global magnetic polarity time scale (MPTS) documents several geomagnetic reversals in the Burdigalian, a continuous sedimentary record would imply that (unrealistically) the whole documented rotation occurred in few thousands years only. We conclude that the section contains one (or more) hiatus(es), and that the minimum age of the unrotated sediments above the volcanic levels is unconstrained. Typical back-arc basin spreading rates translate to a duration ≥3 Ma for the opening of the Liguro–Provençal Basin. Thus, spreading and rotation of Corsica–Sardinia ended no earlier than 16 Ma (early Langhian). A 16–19 Ma, spreading is corroborated by other evidences, such as the age of the breakup unconformity in Sardinia, the age of igneous rocks dredged west of Corsica, the heat flow in the Liguro–Provençal Basin, and recent paleomagnetic data from Sardinian sediments and volcanics. Since Corsica was still rotating/drifting eastward at 16 Ma, it presumably induced significant shortening to the east, in the Apennine belt. Therefore, the lower Miocene extensional basins in the northern Tyrrhenian Sea and margins can be interpreted as synorogenic "intra-wedge" basins due to the thickening and collapse of the northern Apennine wedge.
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