Rheology and deep tectonics

G. Ranalli


The distribution of the rheological properties of the lithosphere in space, and their variations in time, have a profound effect on the resulting tectonic deformation. A classical way of estimating these properties makes use of rheological profiles (strength envelopes). Although rheological profiles are based on assumptions and approximations which limit their resolving power, they are an efficient first-order tool for the study of lithosphere rheology, and their application clarifies the dynamics of tectonic processes. Two examples of the interaction of rheology and tectonics are discussed, namely, the post-orogenic relaxation of Moho topography (which is an additional factor to be considered in tectonic inversion), and the strength control on the level of necking in extension (which may lead to apparent local isostasy at passive continental margins and in sedimentary basins).


rheology of the lithosphere;strength envelopes;relaxation of Moho;level of necking

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-3893
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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X