Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2021-96
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2021-96

  10 Aug 2021

10 Aug 2021

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

Exhumation and erosion of the Northern Apennines, Italy: new insights from low-temperature thermochronometers

Erica D. Erlanger1,2, Maria Giuditta Fellin2, and Sean D. Willett2 Erica D. Erlanger et al.
  • 1GFZ Potsdam, Potsdam, 14473, Germany
  • 2ETH Zürich, Zürich, 8092, Switzerland

Abstract. Analysis of new detrital apatite fission-track (AFT) ages from modern river sands, published bedrock and detrital AFT ages, and bedrock apatite (U-Th)/He (AHe) ages from the Northern Apennines provide new insights into the spatial and temporal pattern of erosion rates through time across the orogen. The pattern of time-averaged erosion rates derived from AHe ages from the Ligurian side of the orogen illustrates slower erosion rates relative to AFT rates from the Ligurian side and relative to AHe rates from the Adriatic side. These results are corroborated by an analysis of paired AFT and AHe thermochronometer samples, which illustrate that erosion rates have generally increased through time on the Adriatic side, but decreased through time on the Ligurian side. Using an updated kinematic model of an asymmetric orogenic wedge, with imposed erosion rates on the Ligurian side that are a factor of two slower relative to the Adriatic side, we demonstrate that cooling ages and maximum burial depths are able to replicate the pattern of measured cooling ages across the orogen and estimates of burial depth from vitrinite reflectance data. These results suggest that horizontal motion is an important component of the overall rock motion in the wedge, and that the asymmetry of the orogen has existed for at least several million years.

Erica D. Erlanger et al.

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Erica D. Erlanger et al.

Erica D. Erlanger et al.

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Short summary
We present an erosion rate analysis on dated rock and sediment from the Northern Apennine Mountains, Italy, which provides new insights on the pattern of erosion rates through space and time. This analysis shows decreasing erosion through time on the Ligurian side, but increasing erosion through time on the Adriatic side. We suggest that the pattern of erosion rates is consistent with the present asymmetric topography in the Northern Apennines, which has likely existed for several million years.