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Migration and shortening rates in the northern Apennines, Italy: implications for seismic hazard


Roberto Basili, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Sezione di Sismologia e Tettonofisica, Via di Vigna Murata, 605-00143 Rome, Italy.
Tel.: +390651860516; fax: +39065041181; e-mail:


Is compression across the northern Apennine fold-and-thrust system (Italy) still active? To address this question, we quantified the long-term rates of migration and shortening of the system along with the measurement errors. Our approach integrates structural geology, seismicity patterns, and statistical treatment of tectonic activity. On the basis of recently published surface and subsurface data, we found a migration rate of 8.85 ± 0.61 mm yr−1. The inception age of individual fold structures follow closely this average rate, indicating that the system has been migrating at a constant rate for the past 17 Myr. Cumulative shortening of the system also increases linearly through time at 2.93 ± 0.31 mm yr−1. The location of the youngest structures in the easternmost portion of the system coincides with a significant peak of seismic moment released by historical earthquakes. We conclude that not only these easternmost thrusts are still active, but also that they generate earthquakes.