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Keywords:

  • Northern Apennines;
  • Olevano-Antrodoco-Sibillini thrust;
  • oblique thrusts;
  • progressive-arc;
  • tectonic rotations;
  • paleomagnetism

[1] We report on a paleomagnetic study of the southern sector of the Olevano-Antrodoco-Sibillini (OAS) thrust front, which corresponds to the southern limb of the Northern Apennines (Italy) orogenic salient. A lively debate has developed regarding the oroclinal/progressive-arc versus non-rotational nature of the OAS, which has been alternatively interpreted as a dextral strike-slip fault, dextral transpressive fault, or frontal to oblique ramp that reactivated pre-existing Jurassic normal faults. Here, we document the paleomagnetism, integrated with biostratigraphic and structural data, of 52 new sites from both the OAS hanging wall and footwall. On the basis of 39 retained sites, we find a peculiar pattern of tectonic rotations along the OAS thrust that evidences four rotational domains. The thrust footwall is characterized by a southern domain that undergoes an approximately 30° counterclockwise rotation with respect to the stable foreland, and an approximately non-rotated domain. The data from the hanging wall indicate the occurrence of a dextral strike-slip component along the southern sector of the OAS thrust supported by a strong clockwise rotation close to the NE-SW lateral ramp, which rapidly fades 1 km from the thrust front. A slight but significant CW rotation observed in the remaining sites from the hanging wall confirms the progressive nature of the OAS, and its structural position as the southern limb of the Northern Apennines salient. Our detailed paleomagnetic study is crucial in discriminating between progressive-arc- and strike-slip-related components in the main curved orogenic front of the Northern Apennines.