Active north-vergent thrusting in the northern Sicily continental margin in the frame of the quaternary evolution of the Sicilian collisional system

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A three-stage evolution has characterized the Sicilian Fold and Thrust Belt (SFTB) during the last 15 My: two main thin-skinned shortening events involving mainly Meso-Cenozoic carbonate units, followed by thick-skinned thrusting involving Plio-Pleistocene deposits in the frontal area as well as the crystalline basement in the inner and deeper sector of the chain. We investigated the northern Sicily continental margin, by using differently-penetrative seismic reflection data and new field surveys, which revealed, both offshore and onshore, north-vergent compressional structures that affected the tectonic edifice during Quaternary time. These structures, correlated with the kinematic setting pointed out by seismicity and GPS measurements, could disclose an important change in distribution and orientation of deformation in the frame of the Africa-Europe convergence. Our hypothesis is that the most recent tectonic processes in the northern Sicily continental margin are representative of a jump of the deformation from the frontal area of the SFTB in the Sicily Channel to the inner sector in the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea. This study is in agreement with recent interpretations about a change in the subduction polarity in the central Mediterranean orogenic system, as a consequence of the ongoing collision of the African promontory with the thinned continental to oceanic sectors (Algerian and Tyrrhenian basins) of the European plate. The seismic activity associated with the north-vergent thrust could have implication for the assessment of the seismic risk in the Central Mediterranean and understanding of active structures in marine areas that could be responsible for tsunami hazard.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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