EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The three-dimensional stress field around the margins of the Adriatic Plate derived from source mechanisms

Elisabeth Glück1, Thomas Meier1, and Josip Stipcevic2
Elisabeth Glück et al.
  • 1Kiel, Geosciences, Geophysics, Germany (
  • 2Zagreb, Geophysics, Croatia

At present time, the formerly much larger Adriatic Microplate is still actively being subducted beneath the Apennines and the Dinarides-Hellenides zone with continental collision and related processes occurring under the Alps and the Dinarides. These tectonic processes along with the large-scale component of the northward moving African Plate resulted in a complex 3D stress field.

In the light of the complex tectonic processes accompanying the movement of the Adriatic Plate, we aim to investigate the three-dimensional stress field in that area by stress inversion using focal mechanism data from the available CMT and RCMT earthquake catalogues. The focal mechanisms are inverted to better understand the stress regime in that region and how the stress pattern is depending on the current tectonic setting. A staggered grid algorithm was used for binning the focal mechanisms before the inversion.

The calculated 3D stress field indicates that the direction of the large-scale convergence of Africa and Eurasia is similar to the dominating direction of the maximum horizontal stress axis in the western central Mediterranean, with the exception of the Apennines, where the subduction of the Adriatic Plate beneath the northern Apennines is the primary source of stress. On the eastern margin of the Adriatic Plate the lack of deeper seismicity and a back arc basin, as well as the orogen normal orientation of the maximum horizontal stress axis in the Dinarides is pointing towards a continental subduction zone with an aseismic delaminating slab of lower lithosphere without a significant slab pull component.
Changes of the stress pattern within the Adriatic Plate may result from intraplate deformation, which points towards a fragmentation of Adria along the Mid Adriatic Ridge into two subplates, Adria Sensu Strictu in the north and Apulia in the south. While Adria Sensu Strictu is moving independently from Africa, Apulia is depending on the larger plates movement.
The inversion of the focal mechanisms from the Hellenic Subduction Zone yields results about the rotation of the stress field with depth, as the maximum horizontal stress rotates from trench normal at shallow depths to trench parallel deeper down.

How to cite: Glück, E., Meier, T., and Stipcevic, J.: The three-dimensional stress field around the margins of the Adriatic Plate derived from source mechanisms, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9691,, 2022.