Differences in REE patterns of calcite from extensional and shear veins of the Sestola Vidiciatico Tectonic Unit in the Northern Apennines suggest variations in fluid source during the seismic cycle in an ancient analogue of a shallow megathrust (Tmaxc. 100–150°C). In shear veins, a positive Eu anomaly suggests an exotic fluid source, probably hotter than the fault environment. Small-scale extensional veins were derived instead from a local fluid in equilibrium with the fault rocks. Mutually crosscutting relations between two extensional vein sets, parallel and perpendicular to the megathrust, suggest repeated shifting of the σ1 and σ3 stresses during the seismic cycle. This is consistent with: (1) a seismic phase, with brittle failure along the thrust, crystallization of shear veins from an exotic fluid, stress drop and stress rotation; (2) a post-seismic phase, with fault-normal compaction and formation of fault-normal extensional veins fed by local fluids; (3) a reloading phase, where shear stress and pore pressure are gradually restored and fault-parallel extensional veins form, until the thrust fails again. The combination of geochemical and structural analyses in veins from exhumed megathrust analogues represents a promising tool to better understand the interplay between stress state and fluids in modern subduction zones.

Supplementary material: Cathodoluminescence microphotographs, methodological details of the microstructural analysis, microphotographs of the location of analysed spots and a geochemical data table are available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4842165

Thematic collection: This article is part of the Polygenetic mélanges collection available at: https://www.lyellcollection.org/cc/polygenetic-melanges

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