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Journal Articles Tectonics Year : 2008

Why is the Ligurian Basin (Mediterranean Sea) seismogenic? Thermomechanical modeling of a reactivated passive margin

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N. Béthoux
  • Function : Author
E. Tric
M.-O. Beslier

Abstract

The seismic activity of the Ligurian Basin, the northeastern termination of the western Mediterranean basin, is larger than in surrounding regions, even though recent geodetic studies attest that this area is subject to very low levels of deformation. This basin is an example of a type of passive margins that cannot be considered solely as inert sites of sedimentation and of progressive subsidence and that are reactivated in a compressive pattern; other examples include the Kwanza basin (Angola) and the Brazil margin. We investigated, by means of 2-D thermomechanical modeling, the structural and rheological heterogeneities that can lead to concentration of strain in this marginal basin. We deduced that the deformation of the basin is due to its particular geometric features, narrow and with a thick surrounding continental crust, related to its position at the southern termination of the Alps. This sharp transition, in terms of both geometry and rheological contrast, is a main factor in explaining the weakness of the margin. We discuss the importance of buoyancy forces versus tectonic forces, as well as thermal effects, on the observed reactivation. Influence of contrast in rheology between an oceanic-type crust and continental crust is also studied. Geodynamical implications are proposed for the region. The good agreement between the predicted localized deformation and the observed seismicity distribution should help improve seismic hazard assessment in the region.
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hal-00407859 , version 1 (23-03-2021)

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N. Béthoux, E. Tric, J. Chery, M.-O. Beslier. Why is the Ligurian Basin (Mediterranean Sea) seismogenic? Thermomechanical modeling of a reactivated passive margin. Tectonics, 2008, 27, pp.TC5011. ⟨10.1029/2007TC002232⟩. ⟨hal-00407859⟩
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