ABSTRACT

The Northern Apennines (NA) are a characteristic example of foreland fold-and-thrust belt progressively migrating towards its foreland. Their tectonic evolution has been quite tightly constrained in time by microfossil biostratigraphy applied to syn-orogenic deposits within foreland basins. This makes the NA well suited to test the reliability of K-Ar illite dating of Neogene deformation affecting siliciclastic sequences. We sampled two top-to-the-ENE thrusts, whose well defined cores are defined by scaly gouge formed at the expense of the pelitic component of the host rock. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and K-Ar isotopic analysis of multiple grain-size fractions of the gouge, allowed us to discriminate between syn-kinematic and inherited illite crystals in the fault rocks. Illite age analysis (IAA) constrains fault slip along the thrusts to 15.2 ± 7.6 Ma and 15.4 ± 16.6 Ma. The results, in spite of their analytical uncertainty, are fully consistent with the local evolution of the NA as constrained by the independent biostratigraphic studies and confirm the general suitability of this geochronological approach to Neogene deformation.

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