Rheological behaviour in continental and oceanic subduction: inferences for the seismotectonics of the Aegean Region


Abstract: We reconstructed several rheological transects across the Aegean Region, comparing the behaviour in collisional versus subducting settings. We interpolated closely spaced 1D strength envelopes, realized through a dedicated MATLAB script, for determining the shallow lithospheric distribution of brittle and ductile layers. We mainly used literature data and geodynamic considerations to fix the parameters for the rheological modelling and took particular care in reproducing reliable thermal models. The results of the mechanical-rheological model highlighted the following features and differences between the northern continental collision and the southern oceanic subduction settings: i) a slightly shallower brittle-ductile transition (BDT) in the western sectors of the northern transects (~30-33 km) with respect to the southern ones (~40 km); ii) on the contrary, in the central-eastern sectors of the investigated area, corresponding to an extensional tectonic regime, the northern transects have a relatively deeper BDT (about 20-25 km) compared with the southern ones (about 15 km); iii) the occurrence of a thick, deeper brittle layer below the shallowest BDT, in the centraleastern sectors of the northern transects. We suggest that such regional differences are mainly related and attributable to the surface heat flow distribution (which directly affects the geothermal gradient) and to the tectonic and geodynamic context. The results of the rheological modelling in terms of depth extent of the brittle layer(s) have been compared with the depth distribution of available relocated seismicity, showing good agreement with the rheological layering proposed here. Finally, the depth of the shallowest BDT along the transects has been adopted as a constraint for the seismogenic layer thickness. Such information has been used to improve the seismotectonic characterization of selected crustal seismogenic sources crossing the transects, by estimating their maximum potential magnitudes on the basis of their geometrical features and consistency with the rheological layering.

Keywords: Rheology, Aegean Region, seismotectonics, modelling, seismic hazard assessment

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