We have mapped and constrained the timing of tectonically deformed uplifted Late Quaternary palaeoshorelines in the Messina Strait, southern Italy, an area above a subduction zone containing active normal faults. The palaeoshorelines are preserved from up to thirteen Late Quaternary sea-level highstands, providing a record of the deformation over this timescale (~500 ka) for the Messina-Taormina Fault, the Reggio Calabria Fault and the Armo Fault. The palaeoshorelines reveal spatial patterns of uplift through time along the strike of these normal faults, and, given the across strike arrangement of the faults, also reveal how the contribution of each fault to the regional strain-rate progressed through time. The results reveal that the uplift rates mapped within the fault hangingwalls and footwalls were not constant through time, with a marked change in the location of strain accumulation at ~50 ka. The uplift rates, once converted into throw-rates, imply that the three faults comprised similar throw-rates prior to ~50 ka (in the range 0.77–0.96 mm/yr), with the Armo and Reggio Calabria faults then switching to lower rates (0.32 mm/yr and 0.33 mm/yr respectively), whilst the Messina-Taormina Fault accelerated to 2.34 mm/yr. The regional extension rate, gained by summing the implied heave rates across the three faults, was maintained through time despite this re-organisation of local strain accumulation at ~50 ka. We explain these out-of-phase fault throw-rate changes during the constant-rate regional extension conditions as due to interactions between these upper plate normal faults. We finally discuss how fault throw-rates changing through time may affect a long-term seismic hazard assessment within active normal fault systems.



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School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences