Recent deeper geophysical results better account for the tectonics in the Italian area

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C. Morelli


Results from extended DSS profiles (1956-1986) in Italy and surrounding land and sea areas offer good constraints for other geophysical and geological data. Integrated interpretations outline the main tectonic features. Collisional tectonics is predominant in the Alps, for which the Adriatic plate acted as hinterland against the European plate foreland. Main results: W-wards, NW- and N-wards oriented overthrusting on the European crust, bending of the lower European crust, European Moho to 70 km depth with the Adriatic mantle indented above, crustal doubling (Adriatic over the European one). In the Apennines, on the contrary, the Adriatic plate acted as a foreland, against the overthrusts generated by the Tuscanian and Tyrrhenian mantellic bodies, heated, elevated and migrated NE-wards and SE-wards, respectively. Also the Adriatic plate bends under this load-centripetally towards the Tyrrhenian sea, so that the Adriatic Moho from 35 km depth is presumed to descend through a flexure till 40-50 km below the Tuscanian and Tyrrhenian land areas. The external peri-Apenninic area is still in compression and includes thick sedimentary basins, from the Po-plain to Sicily. The internal area is in extension, overlapped by thin, stretched crusts of Ligurian and Tyrrhenian origin, whose remnants occupy most of both seas areas, with two areas of oceanic crust in the SE-Tyrrhenian. Rifting and opening is in action also in the Ligurian Sea and Sicily Strait.

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Morelli C. Recent deeper geophysical results better account for the tectonics in the Italian area. Ann. Geophys. [Internet]. 1997Nov.25 [cited 2023Dec.2];40(5). Available from: