The processes occurring on the Earth are controlled by several gradients. The surface of the Planet is featured by complex geological patterns produced by both endogenous and exogenous phenomena. The lack of direct investigations still makes Earth interior poorly understood and prevents complete clarification of the mechanisms ruling geo- dynamics and tectonics. Nowadays, slab-pull is considered the force with the greatest impact on plate motions, but also ridge-push, trench suction and physico-chemical heterogeneities are thought to play an important role. However, several counterargu- ments suggest that these mechanisms are insufficient to explain plate tectonics. While large part of the scientific community agreed that either bottom-up or top-down driven mantle convection is the cause of lithospheric displacements, geodetic observations and geodynamic models also support an astronomical contribution to plate motions. Moreover, several evidences indicate that tectonic plates follow a mainstream and how the lithosphere has a roughly westerly drift with respect to the asthenospheric mantle. An even more wide-open debate rises for the occurrence of earthquakes, which should be framed within the different tectonic setting, which affects the spatial and temporal properties of seismicity. In extensional regions, the dominant source of energy is given by gravitational potential, whereas in strike-slip faults and thrusts, earthquakes mainly dissipate elastic potential energy indeed. In the present article, a review is given of the most significant results of the last years in the field of geodynamics and earthquake geology following the common thread of gradients, which ultimately shape our planet.

Earth’s gradients as the engine of plate tectonics and earthquakes / Zaccagnino, Davide; Doglioni, Carlo. - In: LA RIVISTA DEL NUOVO CIMENTO DELLA SOCIETÀ ITALIANA DI FISICA. - ISSN 0393-697X. - (2022). [10.1007/s40766-022-00038-x]

Earth’s gradients as the engine of plate tectonics and earthquakes

Davide Zaccagnino;Carlo Doglioni
2022

Abstract

The processes occurring on the Earth are controlled by several gradients. The surface of the Planet is featured by complex geological patterns produced by both endogenous and exogenous phenomena. The lack of direct investigations still makes Earth interior poorly understood and prevents complete clarification of the mechanisms ruling geo- dynamics and tectonics. Nowadays, slab-pull is considered the force with the greatest impact on plate motions, but also ridge-push, trench suction and physico-chemical heterogeneities are thought to play an important role. However, several counterargu- ments suggest that these mechanisms are insufficient to explain plate tectonics. While large part of the scientific community agreed that either bottom-up or top-down driven mantle convection is the cause of lithospheric displacements, geodetic observations and geodynamic models also support an astronomical contribution to plate motions. Moreover, several evidences indicate that tectonic plates follow a mainstream and how the lithosphere has a roughly westerly drift with respect to the asthenospheric mantle. An even more wide-open debate rises for the occurrence of earthquakes, which should be framed within the different tectonic setting, which affects the spatial and temporal properties of seismicity. In extensional regions, the dominant source of energy is given by gravitational potential, whereas in strike-slip faults and thrusts, earthquakes mainly dissipate elastic potential energy indeed. In the present article, a review is given of the most significant results of the last years in the field of geodynamics and earthquake geology following the common thread of gradients, which ultimately shape our planet.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1654101
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