Drilling the continental crust into the Moho transition zone

Ivrea-Verbano zone, Italy

Planning and preparing a full drilling of the continental lower crust into the Moho transition zone in the Ivrea-Verbano Zone (IVZ) in the Southern Alps in Italy. The geophysical data show that the IVZ is unique in that the Moho transition zone can be followed from the Po Plain at ~30 km depth to about 15 km in the IVZ where it reaches at a dip of more than 45°. The IVZ is one of the classic cross sections of the lower continental crust. Recent discoveries illustrate that the IVZ is a precious archive of continental magmatism documenting lower crustal processes of magma emplacement, crystallisation, and crustal assimilation, and the development of near surface magmatism including evidence of super-eruptions during a protracted time in the Permian. Drilling the IVZ would provide a unique and continuous set of geochemical, structural, and geophysical data on the nature of the continental lower crust and the crust-mantle transition, the construction and organisation of a deep crustal magmatic system, and the physical conditions (i.e. magma fluxes, magma/country rock rheology, density, seismic velocities). Drilling will additionally investigate heat production and distribution of heat producing elements across a continuous, finely banded sequence of lower crustal rocks, major pre-Alpine and Alpine crustal shear zones, present-day alteration processes, fluid compositions, and its relationships to the major orogenic fault structure of the Alps, the Insubric Line.

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