Present-day vertical isostatic readjustment of the Western Alps revealed by numerical modelling and geodetic and seismotectonic data
Published:January 01, 2010
Annalisa Gardi, Stéphane Baize, Oona Scotti, 2010. "Present-day vertical isostatic readjustment of the Western Alps revealed by numerical modelling and geodetic and seismotectonic data", Advances in Interpretation of Geological Processes: Refinement of Multi-scale Data and Integration in Numerical Modelling, M. I. Spalla, A. M. Marotta, G. Gosso
Download citation file:
The active tectonics of the Western Alps reveals contrasting regimes: ongoing extension at the heart of the chain and transpression–compression at its external sectors. The active processes currently affecting this region are still a matter of debate. The classical models proposed in the literature invoke: Eurasia–Adria plate collision, counterclockwise motion of the Adria microplate, slab retreat of the subducted continental lithosphere and slab-detachment. More recently, several authors prefer the hypothesis of tectonics driven by isostasy–buoyancy forces. To better understand the influence of these processes on the velocity, strain and stress fields at the surface and in the crust, we developed 2D viscoelastic numerical models along a vertical cross-section perpendicular to the Western Alps. We run our models with different driving forces in order to investigate, one by one, the geodynamic processes proposed in the literature. Results are compared with available geodetic, geological and seismotectonic data. In order to bring into coincidence model predictions and observations, an important vertical isostatic readjustment must be included in the modelling, together with a slight horizontal compression (0.5 mm year−1), probably due to Africa–Eurasia convergence. We show that the subduction process in this Alpine region is likely to be dead and that buoyancy forces may be dominating the present-day tectonics.
Figures & Tables
Advances in Interpretation of Geological Processes: Refinement of Multi-scale Data and Integration in Numerical Modelling
Iterative comparison of analytical results and natural observations with predictions of numerical models improves interpretation of geological processes. Further refinements derive from wide-angle comparison of results from various scales of study. In this volume, advances from field, laboratory and modelling approaches to tectonic evolution – from the lithosphere to the rock scale – are compared. Constructive use is made of apparently discrepant or non-consistent results from analytical or methodological approaches in processing field or laboratory data, P–T estimates, absolute or relative age determinations of tectonic events, tectonic unit size in crustal scale deformation, grain-scale deformation processes, various modelling approaches, and numerical techniques. Advances in geodynamic modelling critically depend on new insights into grain- and subgrain-scale deformation processes. Conversely, quantitative models help to identify which rheological laws and parameters exert the strongest control on multi-scale deformation up to lithosphere and upper mantle scale.