We document that the undifferentiated chaotic Ligurian Units of the Monferrato–Torino Hill sector (MO-TH) at the Alps–Apennines junction consist of three different units that are comparable with the Cassio, Caio and Sporno Units of the External Ligurian Units of the Northern Apennines. Their internal stratigraphy reflects the character of units deposited in an ocean–continent transition (OCT) zone between the northwestern termination of the Ligurian–Piedmont oceanic basin and the thinned passive margin of Adria microcontinent. The inherited wedge-shaped architecture of this OCT, which gradually closed toward the north in the present-day Canavese Zone, controlled the Late Cretaceous–early Eocene flysch deposition at the trench of the External Ligurian accretionary wedge during the oblique subduction. This favoured the formation of an accretionary wedge increasing in thickness and elevation toward the SE, from the MO-TH to the Emilia Northern Apennines. Our results therefore provide significant information on both the palaeogeographical reconstruction of the northwestern termination of the Ligurian–Piedmont oceanic basin and the role played by inherited along-strike variations (stratigraphy, structural architecture and morphology) of OCT zones in controlling subduction–accretionary processes.
Supplementary material: A spreadsheet with X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry whole-rock major and trace element composition of mantle peridotites, and photomicrographs of mantle peridotites are available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4519643