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Supplements of Geografia Fisica e Dinamica Quaternaria
Volume I - 1988


Proceedings of the meeting:
The Morphotectonics in Italy


Ricostruzione di sequenze morfoevolutive nei piacentini meridionali (Campania, Appennino meridionale) – Geomorphological and neotectonic evolution of Picentini Mts, (Southern Apennines, Italy)

Pages 207-222


The Monti Picentini massif is one of the largest and more interesting morphos tr uctural unit s of Southern Apennines. It cor responds on a roughly rectangular horst (of some 37 by 25 km), that rises of several hundred meters above the surronding hilly landscape where terrigenous units of Miocene age outcrop. Since the latt er are much more erodab le than the Mesozoic carbonatic rocks forming the massif, the height of the marginal fault scarps appears often increased by diff erential erosian. Thi s phenomen on is paniculary common and relevant along the eastern and north-western sides of the massif, which also correspond on flanks of ancient structural depression , whose soft terrigenous infilling went eroded upon the neotecton ic phases of uplift of the axial zone of chain. The tectonic eve nts that strongly influenced the long and complicated geomorphological evolution of the Monti Picentini can bedivided into two groups: those that occurred before, and those that occurred after the modelling of a relativel y much mature erosional landscape (herein refe rred to as Palcosurjacei. Thi s sutfacc have had a polyciclic genesis: the early phases of modelling may date as back as the Late Miocene (i.e. they were contemporaneous with the last compressive events of the Apenninic orogenesis), while the last periods of planation were probably synchronous with the first moderate episodes of extentional tectoni sm (Late Pliocene and Earl y Pleistocene). The present paper deals with the tectonic and geomorphological events that shaped the present landscape of the Monti Picent ini after the modelling of the Palcostoface; i.e. du ring the following per iod of strong and fast vert ical displacement herein labeled «Neotectonics». Notwithstanding the complete lack of Pleistocene marine deposits it was possible to iden tify and to put in order three disti nct phases of neotectonic defo rmation. The faut! scarp that were created by the first phase arc easlydistinguished from the younger ones for their greater maturity. The high relief they created in the area ( a dense network of scarps, some of which up to 500 m high) primed the production of huge conglomeratic deposits, both within the massif (ouctrops of Iumaiano, Montenero, Rotundo, La Mola, Faito) and alongs its southern piedmont (Conglomerati di Ebol i Auct .). The facies of those conglomerates are of talus and alluvial cone in the intra-mount ain depressions and of alluvial fan, bra ided river bed and alluvial plain in the piedimam area. The first generation of detrital deposit is restricted to the southern portion of the Picent ini massif which is composed of highly fractured dolostones and dolomitic limestones. In the nort hen por tion of the massif, dominated by almost pure and less fractured limestone, karsric modelling prevailed on the fault -blocky landscape created by the first tectonic phase. Once the deposition of the first genera t ion of conglomerate had stopped or almost so, a second period of block faulting occurred (second neotectonic phase). It was caracterized by smaller throws than the first phase (generally less th an 200 meters), a much lower number of fault s (broad sectors of the massif moved in loto), and a new increase of the average elevation of the massif with respect to the surroundings. The th row of said dislocation was gene rally in the orden of one or two hund red meters. Along the southern piedmont of Picentini Mts. the thic k and extensive Eboli formation went locally broken and tilt ed by faults. Also within the massif the conglomerates of first generation appear sometime cut by fault scarps of the second tectonic fase. Anot her period of a tectonic quite followed in the area. It was accompained by erosional processes (such as slope decline, broadening of valleys cut into fractu red dolostones, and karstic planatio n within tectono-karstic depressions) producing loca li zated gentle landscapes (Ri – pianierosiona!l1 which are ofte n cut also on the conglomerates of first generation (Rotundo, Varco Sellara, Castello di Olevanol . Probably in the same period, an erosional glacis developed on the Eboli formation. In a few places into the massif the second tectonic phase was followed also by deposition (lacustrine and fluvio-lacustrine in Tizzano basin, alluvial in the Grotte lle valley). Finally, we recognized a third neotectonic phase which again moved a few lines within the Picentini massif (the tectonic lake of Acerno was born and the Picent ino River valley deepned). In the piedmont area, the erosional glacis cut on the Eboli formation was fragmented into blocks and riscd up to 400 meters a.s.l. An uplift of a greater amount affected the nearb y Picent ini Mts. where the remnants of the gentle erosional landscape (Ripiani erosionatii, initially bevelled to the above said glacis, are now to be found at 600 to 1100 m a.s.l. Said increase of relief caused, among others, the headward downcutt ing of the deep canyon of the Tusciano River throught the Mt. Raione block which resulted in the capture of Acern o’ s lacustrine basin (about 0.35 M.y.B.p.). Th e results of th e first absolute datings (4°K/ 40Ar on pyroclast ic int ercalations of the 150 m thi ck lacustrine sequence) allowed us to estimate tha t the creation of Acemc’s lake (i.e. the third neotectonic phase) occurred about 0.75 M.y. B.p. Since the tectonic events that created the lacust rine depression seem to have the same age of those which primed the fluvial dissection of the damming block, we conclude that the duration of the lake of Acerno corresponds on the time the canyon took to be eroded.

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