Abstract

In the Italian Southern Alps, the Lombardic and Venetian chains and related foreland are separated by the Lessini-Berici-Euganei foreland block, which is unaffected by the Neogene-Quater-nary shortenings. However, the Veneto-Friuli alluvial plain to the east of this foreland block has been affected by a polyphase evolution since the Mesozoic era and represents the foreland of three surrounding chains. The area was affected by several flexural cycles related to the diachronous build-up of the External Dinarides to the east (Late Cretaceous-Late Eocene), the Eastern Southern Alps to the north (Late Oligocene-Quaternary), and the Northern Apennines to the southwest (Middle Miocene-Quaternary). The last two chains are currently active, although at different rates. The western margin of the foreland is marked by the Schio-Vicenza fault, which divides the deformed foreland (Veneto-Friuli alluvial plain) from the undeformed foreland (Lessini and Berici Mountains and Euganei Hills). The aim of this work is to unravel the architecture and evolution of this boundary using 2D seismic sections and deep wells acquired by ENI for hydrocarbon exploration. Approximately 1,000 km of seismic lines were interpreted and 10 wells were used to calibrate the seismic interpretation. Seven seismic sections that are sub-orthogonal to the main faults were selected to obtain geological cross-sections through a depth conversion process. The collected data display a complex buried fault system (Schio-Vicenza fault system) that extends with a NW–SE trend from the foot of the Prealps to the Po Delta. In the cross sections, the movement of the fault shows a vertical component with down-throw of its eastern side (hanging wall block). Some faults display a Mesozoic extensional displacement in accordance with the Mesozoic basin and swell architecture of the area. In addition, the Pliocene throw increases from the southeast to the northwest. Therefore, the Schio-Vicenza fault system can be interpreted as an inherited Mesozoic structure that reactivated during the Neogene shortening of the area. In particular, this fault system appears to have been mainly active during the Pliocene-Quaternary flexural cycle that is related to the Northern Apennines subduction, which is when the fault system accommodated a scissor movement between the Veneto-Friuli foreland and the Lessini-Berici-Euganei block.

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