Neogene kinematics of the Giudicarie Belt and eastern Southern Alpine orogenic front (northern Italy)

Verwater, Vincent F.; Le Breton, Eline; Handy, Mark R.; Picotti, Vincenzo; Jozi Najafabadi, Azam; Haberland, Christian

Neogene indentation of the Adriatic plate into Europe led to major modifications of the Alpine orogenic structures and style of deformation in the Eastern and Southern Alps. The Giudicarie Belt is a prime example of this, as it offsets the entire Alpine orogenic edifice; its activity has been kinematically linked to strike-slip faulting and lateral extrusion of the Eastern Alps. Remaining questions on the exact role of this fold-and-thrust belt in the structure of the Alpine orogen at depth necessitate a quantitative analysis of the shortening, kinematics, and depth of decoupling beneath the Giudicarie Belt and adjacent parts of the Southern Alps. Tectonic balancing of a network of seven cross sections through the Giudicarie Belt parallel to the local NNW–SSE shortening direction reveals that this belt comprises two kinematic domains that accommodated different amounts of shortening during overlapping times. These two domains are separated by the NW–SE-oriented strike-slip Trento-Cles–Schio-Vicenza fault system, which offsets the Southern Alpine orogenic front in the south and merges with the Northern Giudicarie Fault in the north. The SW kinematic domain (Val Trompia sector) accommodated at least inline-formula∼ 18 km of Late Oligocene to Early Miocene shortening. Since the Middle Miocene, this domain experienced at least inline-formula∼ 12–22 km shortening, whereas the NE kinematic domain accommodated at least inline-formula∼ 25–35 km shortening. Together, these domains contributed an estimated minimum of inline-formula∼ 40–47 km of sinistral strike-slip motion along the Northern Giudicarie Fault, implying that most offset of the Periadriatic Fault is due to Late Oligocene to Neogene indentation of the Adriatic plate into the Eastern Alps. Moreover, the faults linking the Giudicarie Belt with the Northern Giudicarie Fault reach inline-formula∼ 15–20 km depth, indicating a thick-skinned tectonic style of deformation. These fault detachments may also connect at depth with a lower crustal Adriatic wedge that protruded north of the Periadriatic Fault and are responsible for N–S shortening and eastward, orogen-parallel escape of deeply exhumed units in the Tauern Window. Finally, the E–W lateral variation of shortening across the Giudicarie Belt indicates internal deformation and lateral variation in strength of the Adriatic indenter related to Permian–Mesozoic tectonic structures and paleogeographic zones.

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Verwater, Vincent F. / Le Breton, Eline / Handy, Mark R. / et al: Neogene kinematics of the Giudicarie Belt and eastern Southern Alpine orogenic front (northern Italy). 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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