In the Northern Apennine (Italy), the Internal Ligurian Units consist of Middle–Late Jurassic ophiolites covered by thick sedimentary deposits whose top is represented by the Early Paleocene Bocco Shale. This formation is characterized by mass-transport deposits interlayered with thin-bedded siliciclastic turbidites. The sedimentological and structural features of these mass-transport deposits reveal a long-lived history of recycling of heterogeneous material in a subduction setting. This history started with the frontal accretion of a fragment of oceanic crust into an accretionary prism whose lower slope was subsequently affected by tectonic erosion and consequent instability, leading to the production of mass-transport deposits and the transfer of material to the lower plate. These mass-transport deposits were subsequently underthrust and then again transferred to the base of the accretionary prism by coherent underplating, before their exhumation to the surface. The Bocco Shale is thus representative of a subduction setting where both accretionary and erosive events occurred, depending on changing boundary conditions. The reconstructed history for the Bocco Shale indicates that the sedimentary and gravitational processes both at the prism front and on the prism slope, possibly induced by alternating accretion and erosion events, are the most efficient mechanisms of lithological mixing and recycling in subduction margins.

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