Crustal stress regime in Italy

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P. Montone
A. Amato
A. Frepoli
M. T. Mariucci
M. Cesaro


In order to obtain a reliable map of the present-day stress field in Italy, needed to better understand the active tectonic processes and to contribute to the assessment of seismic hazard, in 1992 we started to collect and analyze new data from borehole breakouts in deep oil and geothermal wells and focal mechanisms of earthquakes (2.5 < M <5) occurred in Italy between 1988 and 1995. From about 200 deep wells and 300 focal mechanisms analyzed to date, we infer that: the internal (SW) sector of the Northern Apenninic arc is extending with minimum compressional stress (Shmin) oriented ? ENE, while the external front is thrusting over the Adriatic foreland (Shmin ? NW-SE). The entire Southern Apennine is extending in NE direction (from the Tyrrhenian margin to the Apulian foreland) and compression (in the foredeep) is no longer active at the outer (NE) thrust front. Between these two arcs, an abrupt change in the tectonic regime is detected with directions of horizontal stress changing by as much as 90º in the external front, around latitude 430N. Along the Ionian side of the Calabrian arc the stress directions inferred from breakouts and focal mechanisms are scattered with a hint of rotation from N-S Shmin close to the Southern Apennines, to ~ E-W directions in the Messina Strait. In Sicily, a NW-SE direction of SHmax is evident in the Hyblean foreland, parallel to the direction of plate motion between Africa and Europe. A more complex pattern of stress directions is observed in the thrust belt zone, with rotations from the regional trend (NW í directed SHmax) to NE oriented SHmax. A predominant NW direction of SHmax is also detected in mainland Sicily from earthquake focal mechanisms, but no well data are available in this region. In the northern part of Sicily (Aeolian Islands) a ~N-S direction of SHmax is observed.

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Montone, P., Amato, A., Frepoli, A., Mariucci, M. T. and Cesaro, M. (1997) “Crustal stress regime in Italy”, Annals of Geophysics, 40(3). doi: 10.4401/ag-3897.

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