Current knowledge on the crustal properties of Italy

C. Morelli


The recent advances in experimental petrography together with the information derived from the super-deep drilling projects have provided additional constraints for the interpretation of refraction and reflection seismic data. These constraints can also be used in the interpretation of magnetic and gravity data to resolve nonuniqueness. In this study, we re-interpret the magnetic and gravity data of the Italian peninsula and neighbouring areas. In view of the constraints mentioned above, it is now possible to find an agreement between the seismic and gravity models of the Central Alps. By taking into account the overall crustal thickness, we have recognized the existence of three types of Moho: 1) European which extends to the north and west of the peninsula and in the Corsican-Sardinian block. Its margin was the foreland in the Alpine Orogeny and it was the ramp on which European and Adriatic mantle and crustal slices were overthrusted. This additional load caused bending and deepening and the Moho which now lies beneath the Adriatic plate reaching a maximum depth of approximately 75 km. 2) Adriatic (or African) which lies beneath the Po plain, the Apennines and the Adriatic Sea. The average depth of the Moho is about 30-35 km below the Po plain and the Adriatic Sea and it increases toward the Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea (acting as foreland along this margin). The maximum depth (50 km) is reached in Calabria. 3) Pery-Tyrrhenian. This is an oceanic or thinned continental crust type of Moho. It borders the oceanic Moho of the Tyrrhenian Sea and it acquires a transitional character in the Ligurian and Provençal basins (<15 km thickness) while further thickening occurs toward the East where the Adriatic plate is overthrusted. In addition, the interpretation of the heat flow data appears to confirm the origin of this Moho and its geodynamic allocation.


deep crust properties;integrated interpretation

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X