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Abstract

Fission-track dating on detrital apatites from modern sands of the Po Delta is used for a provenance study of sediments in the Po River basin. Analysed samples show a fission-track grain-age distribution characterized by two prominent peaks at 7.7 Ma and 17 Ma. The youngest peak accounts for 46% of the total population of dated grains. This young component in the grain-age distribution is consistent with bedrock cooling ages observed in the Western Alps between the External Massifs and the Houiller unit, as well as in the Lepontine dome of the Central Alps and in the Miocene foredeep units of the Apennines, that overall represent only 12% of the orogenic source area. Results suggest that most of the sediment load in the last 102–105 years was supplied by focused erosion of relatively small areas that experienced short-term erosion rates one order of magnitude higher than in the rest of the belt.

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