The integration of structural and stratigraphic data is fundamental for determining rates of deformation in the uppermost continental crust. The high temporal resolution provided by Neogene marine sediments is used here to examine deformation rates in part of a thrust belt chosen from the Maghrebian orogen of Sicily. Conventional biozonal stratigraphy, calibrated against the geomagnetic polarity time scale, shows that individual thrust-fold structures grew steadily over many millions of years. Structures across the thrust belt were active at the same time and accommodated bulk shortening rates of c. 0.5 mm a-1. In contrast the basal detachment operated about ten times faster. These results are in broad agreement with some theoretical models for orogenic wedge kinematics. Shore-line carbonate successions, calibrated with precession cycles of sea-level change, provide a very high-resolution, temporal scale with which to chart tilt rates on fold limbs (1°/27.6 ka = 0.036° ka-1). These show that fold amplification was continuous although the rates may have varied with time. Incremental tilting of limbs during fold amplification is not predicted by popular models of fault-bend and 'fault-propagation' folding. Geometric modelling suggests that folding occurred by limb rotation, with minor hinge migration during buckling above buried thrusts. Thus stratigraphic data may be used to examine the kinematic evolution of thrust-fold systems along regional cross-sections, and of local structures. However, the types of structural models that can be tested using estimates of deformation rates depend upon the chrono-stratigraphic resolution available for the syn-tectonic sediments.

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