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Growth folding and active thrusting in the Montello region, Veneto, northern Italy

Abstract : The Montello is an elongated hill about 15 km long and 5 km wide located south of the Venetian Alps front and ∼100 km southwest of Gemona, site of the destructive Ms ∼6, 1976 earthquake sequence. Mio-Pliocene strata in the core of the hill are folded. Seven Quaternary terraces across the western termination of the anticline have also been folded and uplifted. The terraces flank the abandoned Biadene valley, a former course of the Piave river which now flows eastwards along the north side of the hill. Topographic profiles along and transverse to the valley and terraces are used to measure the progressive development of the anticline. Fossil remains and archaeological sites dated with 14C suggest that the Biadene paleovalley was abandoned between 14 and 8 ka (11±3 ka). The successive terraces appear to have been emplaced at the onset of interglacials and interstadials, since about 350 ka. The best fitting terrace ages suggest vertical uplift rates of about 0.5 mm/yr before 172 ka and of about 1 mm/yr after 121 ka. The Montello thus appears to be a growing ramp anticline on top of an active, north dipping thrust that has migrated south of the mountain into the foreland. Modeling the deformation of the terraces as a result of motion on such a thrust ramp requires that it propagated both south and upwards with time but with a constant slip rate (1.8-2 mm/yr). For at least 300 kyr the lateral growth of the anticline kept pushing the course of the Piave river southwestwards, at a rate at first of 10 mm/yr, and then 20 mm/yr. Though the growth rate doubled more than 120 kyr ago, the anticline kept a constant height/length growth ratio (≃20) implying self-similar depth/length growth of the thrust underneath. The clustering of historical earthquakes north of Treviso suggests that the thrust responsible for ongoing folding of the Montello slipped seismically three times (778, 1268, 1859 A.D.; intensity I ≥ VIII) in the last 2000 years, with events of maximum magnitude close to 6 and with average recurrence time between 500 and 1000 years. NW shortening on NE-SW trending thrusts along the Venetian Alps front is compatible with the direction of convergence between Africa and Europe but does not suffice to absorb this convergence.
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Lucilla Benedetti, Paul Tapponnier, Geoffrey C. P. King, Bertrand Meyer, Isabelle Manighetti. Growth folding and active thrusting in the Montello region, Veneto, northern Italy. Journal of Geophysical Research : Solid Earth, American Geophysical Union, 2000, 105, pp.739-766. ⟨10.1029/1999JB900222⟩. ⟨insu-03596952⟩

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