Active compressional tectonics along the outer front of the Apenninic-Maghrebian chain (Italy) is well documented along the northern and central segments and in Sicily. On the other hand, the Southern Apenninic Outer Front (SAOF) orogenic activity is well established only until the Lower-Middle Pleistocene. We address the hypothesis of its subsequent late Quaternary activity in central-southern Italy (Abruzzo and Molise regions). We integrated topographic and fluvial network analyses along with morphotectonic investigation of fluvial terraces to identify evidence of differential rock uplift. We compared the results with the main geolithological units, known structural elements, and long-term deformation history from seismic line interpretation. We found variable evidence suggesting localized rock uplift in the Abruzzo region along the SAOF (Abruzzo Citeriore Basal Thrust segment) and inward structures on its hanging wall (Casoli-Bomba high), as well as along part of the Struttura Costiera thrust. Middle-to-Late Pleistocene deformation is constrained by terrace tilting and disruption along the Pescara river. Localized shortening along segments of the Apenninic Outer Front could explain the observed pattern of anomalies which is difficult to explain with long-wavelength regional uplift alone. Our reconstruction is consistent with the long-term deformation of the area and agrees with its seismotectonic setting. Despite the low deformation rate context and the peculiar geological setting which challenges the interpretation of the topographic and geomorphic signals, this study compels reconsideration, in terms of seismic hazard assessment, of the existence of late Quaternary active thrusting in central-southern Italy.
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