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A finite-element thermomechanical model is used to analyse present-day crustal deformation in the surroundings of the Calabrian Arc. The major structural complexities of the Tyrrhenian area are taken into account, along with the rheological properties of the rocks resulting from a thermal analysis. A comparison between the results obtained from a model composed of three wide rheologically uniform blocks and those obtained from the thermomechanical model allows us to better constrain the geophysical assumptions and shed light on the roles of the different active mechanisms acting in the Tyrrhenian. Our comparative analysis enlightens the crucial role played by lateral rheological heterogeneities when deformation is analysed at short wavelengths of a few hundred kilometres of the Tyrrhenian, driving the observed diffuse SW–NE extension within the regional context of active Africa–Eurasia convergence. Furthermore, a χ2 analysis based on comparisons with GPS data confirms the hypothesis that a significant part of the Africa–Eurasia convergence is absorbed through the Calabrian subduction.

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