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Morphotectonics of the Upper Tiber Valley (Northern Apennines, Italy) through quantitative analysis of drainage and landforms


We present a geomorphological analysis of the recent extensional tectonics of a Quaternary continental basin in the Northern Apennines (Italy). The study area is focused on Upper Tiber Valley (UTV), a basin elongated for 70 km in NNW-SSE direction hosting the Tiber River. The area is characterized by a series of features that make it an excellent case study: (i) homogeneity of lithology (ii) active faults, and (iii) strong morphogenetic activity. In this study, 36 hydrographical basins, tributaries of Tiber River, have been analysed. A preliminary qualitative geomorphological setting was outlined pointing out that the drainage river network shows meaningful evidence of tectonic control, such as abrupt changes in stream directions, knickpoints and steepness anomalies alignments along meaningful length in adjacent basins. Besides, the tectonic control is well marked in base level changes and consequent tectonically induced downcutting. Signs of neotectonics are highlighted by structural landforms too. The entrenchment of alluvial fans, the triangular facets and the fault planes are mapped by field survey and aerial photo interpretation. In addition, a quantitative analysis was also performed. Linear, areal and volumetric indexes related to drainage basins and river networks are taken into account. The geometry of the escarpments delimiting the basin and the landforms detected along the adjacent piedmont are investigated. The ranges of values, according to the existing literature, confirm a condition of wide-ranging morphological disturbance. In the central part of the study area, while the western basins are almost in equilibrium, the eastern ones reveal clear signs of disequilibrium, this is particularly evident along the distal segment of the river network. These data, joined with the characteristics of the escarpment and piedmont junction, confirm that the neotectonic activity, in the centre and in the eastern side of the basin, is the main factor controlling the morphological system.

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Melelli, L., Pucci, S., Saccucci, L. et al. Morphotectonics of the Upper Tiber Valley (Northern Apennines, Italy) through quantitative analysis of drainage and landforms. Rend. Fis. Acc. Lincei 25, 129–138 (2014).

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  • Geomorphometry
  • Neotectonic
  • Tiber basin
  • Umbria region