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By comparing long term lithospheric strength to seismicity patterns across the Alpine region, we show that most seismicity occurs where strengths are highest within the crust. The lower crust appears largely aseismic due to energy being dissipated by ongoing creep from low viscosities. Lithospheric structure appears to exert a primary control on seismicity distribution, with both forelands display a different distribution patterns, likely reflecting their different tectonic settings.
Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2020-202
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2020-202

  09 Dec 2020

09 Dec 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal SE.

How Alpine seismicity relates to lithospheric strength

Cameron Spooner1,2, Magdalena Scheck-Wenderoth1,3, Mauro Cacace1, and Denis Anikiev1 Cameron Spooner et al.
  • 1GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, Potsdam University, Potsdam, Germany
  • 3Department of Geology, Geochemistry of Petroleum and Coal, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

Abstract. Despite the amount of research focused on the Alpine orogen, different hypotheses still exist regarding varying seismicity distribution patterns throughout the region. Previous measurement-constrained regional 3D models of lithospheric density distribution and thermal field facilitate the generation of an observation-based rheological model of the region. Long term lithospheric strength was then calculated and compared to observed seismicity patterns, showing that the highest strengths within the crust (~ 1 GPa) and upper mantle (> 2 GPa), occur at temperatures characteristic for specific phase transitions (crust: 200–400 °C; mantle: ~ 600  °C) with almost all seismicity occurring in in these regions. Correlation in the northern and southern forelands between crustal and lithospheric strengths and seismicity show different patterns of event distribution, reflecting their different tectonic settings. Seismicity in the plate boundary setting of the southern foreland corresponds to the integrated lithospheric strength, occurring mainly in the weaker domains surrounding the strong Adriatic indenter. However, in the intraplate setting of the northern foreland seismicity instead corresponds to the crustal strength, mainly occurring in the weaker and warmer crust beneath the URG. Results generated in this study are available for open access use to further discussions on the region.

Cameron Spooner et al.

 
Status: open (until 26 Jan 2021)
Status: open (until 26 Jan 2021)
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Cameron Spooner et al.

Cameron Spooner et al.

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Short summary
By comparing long term lithospheric strength to seismicity patterns across the Alpine region, we show that most seismicity occurs where strengths are highest within the crust. The lower crust appears largely aseismic due to energy being dissipated by ongoing creep from low viscosities. Lithospheric structure appears to exert a primary control on seismicity distribution, with both forelands display a different distribution patterns, likely reflecting their different tectonic settings.
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