Geodynamic and seismotectonic model of a long-lived transverse structure: The Schio-Vicenza Fault System (NE Italy)

Zampieri, Dario; Vannoli, Paola; Burrato, Pierfrancesco

We make a thorough review of geological and seismological data on the long-lived Schio-Vicenza Fault System (SVFS) in northern Italy and present for it a geodynamic and seismotectonic interpretation.

The SVFS is a major and high-angle structure transverse to the mean trend of the eastern Southern Alps fold-and-thrust belt, and the knowledge of this structure is deeply rooted in the geological literature and spans more than a century and a half. The main fault of the SVFS is the Schio-Vicenza Fault (SVF), which has a significant imprint in the landscape across the eastern Southern Alps and the Veneto-Friuli foreland. The SVF can be divided into a northern segment, extending into the chain north of Schio and mapped up to the Adige Valley, and a southern one, coinciding with the SVF proper. The latter segment borders to the east the Lessini Mountains, Berici Mountains and Euganei Hills block, separating this foreland structural high from the Veneto-Friuli foreland, and continues southeastward beneath the recent sediments of the plain via the blind Conselve–Pomposa fault. The structures forming the SVFS have been active with different tectonic phases and different styles of faulting at least since the Mesozoic, with a long-term dip-slip component of faulting well defined and, on the contrary, the horizontal component of the movement not being well constrained. The SVFS interrupts the continuity of the eastern Southern Alps thrust fronts in the Veneto sector, suggesting that it played a passive role in controlling the geometry of the active thrust belt and possibly the current distribution of seismic release. As a whole, apart from moderate seismicity along the northern segment and few geological observations along the southern one, there is little evidence to constrain the recent activity of the SVFS. In this context, the SVFS, and specifically its SVF strand, has accommodated a different amount of shortening of adjacent domains of the Adriatic (Dolomites) indenter by internal deformation produced by lateral variation in strength, related to Permian–Mesozoic tectonic structures and paleogeographic domains.

The review of the historical and instrumental seismicity along the SVFS shows that it does not appear to have generated large earthquakes during the last few hundred years. The moderate seismicity points to a dextral strike-slip activity, which is also corroborated by the field analysis of antithetic Riedel structures of the fault cropping out along the northern segment. Conversely, the southern segment shows geological evidence of sinistral strike-slip activity. The apparently conflicting geological and seismological data can be reconciled considering the faulting style of the southern segment as driven by the indentation of the Adriatic plate, while the opposite style along the northern segment can be explained in a sinistral opening “zipper” model, where intersecting pairs of simultaneously active faults with a different sense of shear merge into a single fault system.

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Zampieri, Dario / Vannoli, Paola / Burrato, Pierfrancesco: Geodynamic and seismotectonic model of a long-lived transverse structure: The Schio-Vicenza Fault System (NE Italy). 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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