Correspondence caused by manuscript submission to and its rejection by the editors of a geological journal

11.05.2024 email sent:
Dear friends,
.....
In the meantime I have changed my opinion: I think it is better not to answer to the message of the editors. The reasons:
- Instead of true dialogizing, they again monologize without really referring to the points I mentioned, considering them and arguing accordingly. None of my points and evidences concerning geology were addressed by them. This is frustrating to me and a continuation of the communication seems to me senseless.
- Time is too valuable to waste it with answering to a letter full of poison: untrue statements ("we have no conflict of interest"), malevolence ("your manuscript did not attain the level of scientific standard and necessary quality of international journals"), intimidation ("your grave and unjustified accusations") as well as hubris/arrogance ("In Your work potentially valuable data are presented"). But I stand above this and I am sure it is better to continue preparing .... the new map part.
- The other point is that I do not want to stirr more emotions, which already appeared in the sixth paragraph of their letter. It seems they stand with their back to the wall.
I hope You can understand my position.
The editors' unwise behaviour supports my view that the Late Permian age attribution to Poggio al Carpino - Farma - Carpineta Fms. postulated by the ....-group is wrong.
Many thanks again for Your help and patience.
Best greetings!
Hubert

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07.05.2024:
Dear Dr. Engelbrecht, We were sorry to receive your message and to realize that our decision came across so uncomfortable to you.   As journal’s editors, we have the final responsibility for acceptance of the manuscripts, and we take this role with extreme care, reviewing ourselves each manuscript after the reviewers’ recommendation, in the best interest of the journal and the Authors. In your case, evidently, we failed in this endeavor, since you think we were unrespectful of your work and applied a biased editorial workflow. Regarding the review process, we would emphasize the following points:

1. Your manuscript was initially assigned to two independent reviewers with recommendations of minor and major revisions;

2. The revised manuscript was sent out to the reviewer who had raised most concerns to verify how, in their view, comments had been considered during revision; we wish to stress that this is a normal procedure, not a biased procedure. To rely on a third review is reasonable and appropriate only when two very contrasting recommendations are provided,  i.e., minor revision vs rejection. This is not the case for your manuscript;

3. The reviewer reported that the in the revised version of your contribution the majority of their comments had only barely been considered. This brought to the conclusion by the reviewer that major revisions were still necessary to bring your manuscript up to level with the standards of the journal;

4. The final decision was based on the reviewer’s report and on the way the comments by the reviewers were incorporated in the revised text. We also evaluated ourselves the amended version of your contribution and also felt that your resubmitted manuscript had not sufficiently progressed from the initial version. It is a rather common procedure to reject a submission if, after a first round of revisions, it remains far from the necessary level of quality for the journal.

5. The time spent for reviewing the revised version of your manuscript is in line with the normal editorial workflow.

Please note that although potentially valuable data are presented in your work, we both concur with the reviewer that you did not fully succeed in bringing the structure of your manuscript up to level with the standards of an international journal, failing to present and adequately discuss the overarching scientific problem. This is the major limitation of your manuscript and, as editors, we need to make sure that published contributions comply with a set of quality criteria that we apply to all submitted contributions. Please, also note that more than 60% of the submitted manuscripts to journal have been desk rejected in the last year and, therefore, having sent your manuscript out for review demonstrates that the topics and presented result were potentially in line with the scope and aims of the journal, as also stressed in the letter sent to you after the first round of revision.

On a last note, we are hurt by and firmly reject the insinuation by your side of conflict of interest in handling your manuscript. Why such an accusation? Is the negative decision by an editorial panel sufficient to you to blame its members with grave accusations? We have no conflict of interest whatsoever to report, since neither of us is currently working in that area, in the same field of your research and we have no specific positions/ideas to defend by unjustly penalizing the work of others. The more negative reviewer was selected as a recognized expert of the Northern Apennines regional geology and of the research issues you presented in the submitted manuscript. Our intention was to only improve the manuscript to make it publishable in our journal.

To conclude, we are close to you and understand your discomfort at this time. We obviously respect your decision to ignore our journal in the future, even though we do not fully understand your reaction nor share your bitterness (how many times did we receive negative decisions on our own manuscripts? It is part of the scientific process and we all learn also from negative outcomes). We do hope, however, that this revision process may help you prepare a more robust contribution.

We remain available for further discussion and information and wish you all the best for your future endeavors.   Prof. ... and Prof. ....

-------------------------------

Da: Hubert Engelbrecht
Oggetto: Protest against final rejection of the manuscript

To the editors and to the anonymous reviewer,

I have received the message from 22.04.2024 that my manuscript was rejected. Herewith I protest against that final decision, because I do not see any scientifically based, objective reasons, which would substantiate that act. Here are the arguments:

The anonymous reviewer maintained that I just would assume the Carboniferous age of the heteropic formations and ignored the fact that an age-specific brachiopod of Early Carboniferous age has been presented as well as field evidence and logic arguments contradicting the Permian age supported by him (as by the authors of several recent publications on the topic, all duly acknowledged and taken into due account in my manuscript). But this is just subjective and untrue. All my statements concerning Carboniferous age as well as the rejection of the Permian age are substantiated. See referring passages in the manuscript.

The anonymous maintained that science is based on data, not on assumptions. But the interpretation of data causes statements, assumptions, theories and prognoses, which must be tested subsequently and which are valid, until they are disproved and/or dismissed by contradicting new facts. Intelligent assumptions and their scrutinized testing lead to scientific progress. I never wrote in the manuscript unreasoned assumptions.

The statement of the anonymous that the structure of the manuscript and its figures are that of a thesis may be true, at least in part, since my work arises from a thesis project that was then refined during 30 years of subsequent work… but is a thesis a scientifically non valid documentation? I certainly don’t believe so nor support this view. He thinks that the chapters "Previous work" and "Geological setting" are too long and some figures contain too many details. But highly complex geological situations like the working area must be presented thoroughly in order to correctly inform the reader; otherwise oversimplified introducing chapters would cause detriment to the journal and to the reader. I wrote this in my first reply, but the anonymous reviewer ignored that.

The associate editor stated that the anonymous referee has recommended that the manuscript is not to be published. But this is provably untrue: instead the referee found that the manuscript needed further improvement, because he thought a good job was done and the stratigraphy is worthwhile to be published.

The editor in chief’s verdict confirmed the associate editor’s recommandation. This means that the editor in chief ignored the recommandation by the anonymous reviewer.

The second, amended version of the manuscript was sent again to the anonymous referee, but not a second time to Prof.... , nor to other third parts. By proceeding in this way, an existing imbalance/bias/one-sidedness was increased, because the anonymous referee's first response was predominantly negative; and this view was entirely shared by the associate editor. Under these circumstances, as expected, the second review of the anonymous referee was again largely negative, although he found that the manuscript, pending on further revision, could be an acceptable contribution because of its original and conspicuous stratigraphic content. A well weighted, better balanced evaluation of the manuscript was thus prevented. However, in the case of strongly differring opinions and/or recommendations, it would have been reasonable to choose new referees for the second revision. But this possibility was not taken into account.

Questions arising from the afore mentioned reasons are:

Is it responsible behaviour

- of journal editors to relinquish on the results of ca. 30 years of geological work?

- to exclude the public interested in geosciences from fairly well argumented/reasoned alternative views on a geological problem?

- to prevent diversity of reasoned argumentations; thus to decelerate scientific progress and to cement and foster exclusively one scientific direction, which may very probably be wrong?

Conclusions:

- This procedure has offended against good scientific/editorial practice.

- From this follows that an undeclared conflict of interest of the editors and the anonymous reviewer can be inferred, or at least feared.

- In any case, this final decision was catastrophic for both editors, for the anonymous reviewer, for the journal as well as for the community interested in geology. In transferred sense, You dumped geological gold, which I dug over many years to the south of the gate of Siena. Of course I will never again submit a manuscript to this journal, as long as this conflict of interest exists or may be percieved.

By the way: It lasted seven weeks from resubmission on 02.03.2024 until rejection on 22.04.2024. Only one revisor was active, who already knew the original content. This is much too long for a fair editorial procedure, which can easily be done within max. two weeks. Suspicion arouse because of the long time elapsed, and this is what I find, amongst other considerations expressed above, frustrating for an author waiting for a timely reply, hoping that his resubmitted manuscript be submitted to the attention of at least two referees.

Sincerely

Hubert Engelbrecht

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22-Apr-2024 Dear Dr. Engelbrecht: I write you in regards to manuscript entitled "A geological survey of the Farma Valley (Monticiano-Roccastrada metamorphic core complex, Southern Tuscany, Italy) Preliminary results and considerations" which you submitted to the journal. In view of the criticisms of the reviewers found at the bottom of this letter, your manuscript has been denied publication in the journal. Thank you for considering the journal for the publication of your research. I hope the outcome of this specific submission will not discourage you from the submission of future manuscripts. Sincerely, Prof. ... Editor in Chief

Associate Editor's recommendations and comments to the author: Dear Dr. Engelbrect, I regret to inform you that I cannot recommend to the Editor in Chief to accept your manuscript. It is very seldom for two rounds of review to both end with the recommendation of Major Revisions. The referee who studied your resubmitted amended version feels that you have not dealt satisfactorily with the comments and requests he had initially pointed out and thus concludes that, unless the paper is significantly changed, it should not be published. In light of the fact that this has not happened in this second version of your contribution, I see myself forced to express to the EIC a negative opinion as to the possibility for this paper to be published in the journal. Yours sincerely Prof....

Reviewer(s)' Comments to Author: Reviewer (anonymous): Dear Author, I have read your manuscript for the second time. As I said last time I think you have done (and are doing) a good job but I think your manuscript still presents in part the same problems that I pointed out the previous time: 1) the structure of the manuscript and figures is that of a thesis; 2) the age of the formations you attribute needs to be better justified. Regarding the latter point, I understand that you accept with difficulty that some of the successions have been referred to the Permian and that this upsets your reference points but you have to realize that these ages were derived through paleontological data and were published after a process of refining and checking by other experts. So if you want to hold that these ages don't fit, you have to bring additional data to support it and it's not enough to say that the older authors had referred them to another age because that has already been discussed in the more recent papers. So there are two possibilities: either you add a new paleontological study or you prepare a paragraph in the discussion in which you explain why the microfloristic data that attribute certain successions to the Permian and Carboniferous are not acceptable. There are no other solutions because science is based on data and not on assumptions. I hope this can help you improve the manuscript because I think it is worthwhile for your stratigraphic data to be published.

-----------------------------

02.03.2024: Cover letter:
Dear Ladies and dear Gentlemen,

herewith I offer to You the results of more than 30 years (2 months per annum) of my geological research in the Farma Valley of the Monticiano-Roccastrada area. I kept to it over this long time, because I wanted to understand its complicated and highly interesting geology. Although not yet having finished mapping the entire Farma Valley, I decided to publish finally now, because of the amount of time elapsed and because of my advanced age.... I decided to submit the manuscript to that journal, because

1) this area is positioned in Central Italy,

2) I intend to stimulate discussions among readers interested in as well as more geological activities in this region and

3) I want to spark the interest of persons potentially carrying on my work.

Yours sincerely

Hubert Engelbrecht

-----------------------------------

02.03.2024: Answers to the reviewers

Dear Prof. ..., dear anonymous reviewer and dear Prof. ....,

here are my positions to the revisions I received from You on 02.01.2024:

Dear anonymous reviewer,

thank You for reviewing the manuscript. You recommend major corrections, aimed at using a more appropriate, conventional scientific standard.

Unfortunately You did not mark the text and map, so that I could not visualize Your vetos and correct the text accordingly. Such markings would have been helpful.

I restructured the chapters as follows:

Introduction:

You criticize that 1: it is not focussed enough and that it 2: contains information, which should better be included in other places.

Answers:

1: For precisizing focus and scope of the paper, the first paragraph of this chapter was formulated as follows: „The architecture of orogenic interiors may be extremely complex due to protracted deformations produced over millions of years. As a consequence, the structural style of these provinces may be very difficult to unravel. Yet, detailed geological mapping of these and analogue settings may provide crucial information to help reconstruct the local geological history. This paper aims at illustrating the geological map of a part of the Farma River valley - an area located in SW Tuscany, in the heart of the Northern Apennines of Italy - and at explaining the resulting consequences for the origination of the Monticiano-Roccastrada metamorphic core complex.“ Hopefully this new text part may help to introduce the paper with a more appropriate focus.

2: I relinquished on the following passages, which contain information not appropriate:

- „… and sometimes contradicting information from papers related to mentioned geological topics...“.

- „... in sheltered areas it houses rare and relict species of the last glacial period like the conifer Taxus baccata LINNE (De Cosmo 2004), the beech Fagus sylvatica and the amphibium Triturus alpestris apuanus [Bonaparte, 1839] (Vanni et al. 2002).“

Geological setting:

According to Your opinion this chapter is 1: too extensive and mentions facts irrelevant to the study area; including misleading references and partially discussion. 2: A figure illustrating the general tectonic and stratigraphic development of Tuscany is missing.

Answers:

1: I agree that the chapter must be shortened and focussed; but I do not think that facts are mentioned that are either irrelevant or misleading. The palaeogeographic, structural and geophysical details mentioned in all the cited papers explain, why and how the Monticiano-Roccastrada metamorphic core complex was formed. The geological history and setting of Tuscany and of course also of the study area are very complex, indeed; this explains the numerous explanations and high amount of citations that I keep finding necessary. Otherwise oversimplification would result. I amended tha chapter trying to focus on what I believe are the information to be provided to the reader and condensed it from 5 to a bit more than 4 pages. In Your view, what parts or contents are „misleading or irrelevant“? Could You please mark these passages in the text?

2: I welcome Your point and as a consequence a figure illustrating the general geological development of the crust of Tuscany has been added; see Fig. 2.

Previous work:

You criticize that this chapter is way too didactic and that a reasoned summary of the data contained in the literature should be provided, sorted according to topics and not chronologically.

Answer:

First of all, I hope to have made crystal clear that the scope of my work is to present the results of an unprecedented, original geological survey and mapping work. This means that the manuscript is not, nor can it be, limited to focus on a single or only very few, selected geological topics, but rather that it has necessarily to deal with at least the main stratigraphic, sedimentologic, palaeontologic, palaeogeographic, metamorphic, tectonic aspects, or features, etc.. Consequently at least the main topics should be dealt with in the „reasoned summary“ You request. But, also due to the objective complexity of the geological setting, the local literature is rife with multi-topical papers that have covered various aspects of that difficult scenario, with remarkable examples by Cocozza et al. (1974, 1978, 1987), Costantini et al. (1988), Conti et al. (1991), Brogi et al. (2012, 2023), Capezzuoli et al. (2021), Spina et al. (2021), etc..

On the other hand, only very few published contributions have focused on specific topics like those by Mario Pasini, Mele (2012) and by Giuntoli & Viola (2021). Thus a topic-organized „reasonable summary“ would necessarily contain the citations of the multi-theme papers several times, because they contain information about several geological issues. This seems to me difficult to achieve and would imply that the length of such a „reasoned summary“ would increase unnecessarily. As stated since the „Introduction“ section, this cannot be the scope here. According to my view, the chapters „Previous work“ of papers with multiple themes can only be written according to a chronological order, also considering that this order enables the reader in gaining an appreciation of how different scientific views have been achieved through time. Therefore having seriously considered Your observation and request, in this case I preferred to maintain a chronological order for illustrating the great amount of previous work, avoiding to list the references according to topical, rather than chronological, criterion.

In maintaining this view, I did follow as a source of inspiration the presentation style used in, for instance, Costantini et al. (1988) and in Rau & Tongiorgi (1974). From the selected papers I extracted and summarized only the main information relevant to illustrate the content of the present study. The „Previous work“ section, now shortened by 1 pages to 4 pages, consists in a highly condensed summary covering a long history of exploration since 1942, and collects/illustrates the main results described in ca. 40 classic papers. All the citations mentioned in the „Previous work“ section are referred to in the „Stratigraphy“, „Tectonics“ and „Discussion“ sections.

Stratigraphy:

You state that this chapter lacks organization, because 1: the subdivision in tectonic subunits is incomplete; 2: the lithostratigraphic description is intermixed with too long comments and critics, which generate confusion; 3: the stratigraphic units must be listed from the top downwards; 4: critics is presented without arguments/data supporting alternative views.

Answers:

1: The missing description of the tectonic unit „Tuscan nappe“, which consists here of two units made up of a cataclasite and the Calcare cavernoso, has been added.

2: Comments and critics were removed from the „Stratigraphy“ section and transferred into the „Discussion“ section.

3: The bottom upward oriented stratigraphy was inverted, so that it can be read now top downwards. The listing of the geological formations is now organized referring to the tectonic units they belong to / are involved within, as well as to their geological ages.

4: Concerning critics and alternative views, now transferred in the „Discussion“ section: all these points of dissent, critics and alternative views are sustained by at least one argument; I accurately checked that in the awareness that arguments principally can have differing degrees of strength, and that I was not able to supply exclusively strong/sound arguments. I think that now neither in the „Stratigraphy“ nor in the „Discussion“ sections empty words are left, which could impair/harm the quality of my attempts to achieve a clearer text.

Tectonics:

You criticize that 1: the structures are described randomly and uncategorized, what is not appropriate for the standard style of a scientific publication and 2: references were made to sites unknown to the reader.

Answers:

1: I reorganized this section, so that the chronological subdivision of the tectonic events is now hopefully clearer: In subzone I, two folding events of Late Oligocene - Early Miocene and Pliocene - Quaternary ages were discerned, followed by complex, multiphase extensional and shearing events. The latter were grouped according to their strike directions and supposed relative ages, ascertained wherever possible. In subzone II, the compressive events were grouped according to the clustering of their strike directions of the constructed -axes, but unfortunately their age relations could not be determined. The same applies to the younger sets of normal faults and shear fractures. Because of the poor-to-very poor outcrop conditions, a more detailed subdivision of the tectonic events and determination of the relative ages of resulting structures was impossible.

2: It seems to me not feasible to refer to sites in the working area without mentioning the names of geographic locations as close as possible to them, that serves to easily identify the outcrops. With this issue in mind, I added a small map of the Farma Valley containing all the important geographical sites referred to in the text and figure captions. See Fig. 3D.

Discussion:

You state that this chapter is too short, because much of it is spread partially in the „Stratigraphy“ and „Tectonics“ sections.

Answer:

I agree on this issue and transferred these parts into the „Discussion“ section, that now consists of ca. 12 pages. This was reorganized in three main sub-sections. In the first part, different opinions and critics concerning geological ages and depositional settings of some formations are discussed; discussions of differing opinions on the palaeotectonic development of the working area follow; and finally discussions about the tectonic style of it.


Conclusions
:

This chapter is missing and should contain the main novelties.

Answer: I welcome Your point and consequently I added a new „Conclusion“ section consisting ca. 1 pages of key-bullet statements, with the relevant results of mapping and related conclusions derived from considerations extensively illustrated in the „Discussion“ section.

Figures:

You criticize that 1: the legend should be placed at the side of the geological map and the section below the map. 2: In the section the geological symbols should be clearly highlighted. 3: You further mention geometric problems on faults and thrusts and that 4: the deformation style seems more typical of the outer than of the inner part of the Northern Apennines, that was achieved due to two main compressional events, followed by multiphase extension.

Answers:

1: I share Your view and as a consequence, the legend has been placed to the side of the geological map; whereas the profile had already been located below the map.

2: The geological symbols in the profile were uniformed to those indicated in the map, so that the faults are now highlighted in red in both map and section. At the location „Belagaio“, I recognize to have omitted an important normal fault; this inconsistency has now been fixed.

3: Concerning the geometrical problems on faults and thrusts: where and what are the mentioned problems? It is difficult for me to spot them because of the size of the map and the large number of inserted tectonic structures. However, I well remember and am well aware to have pondered a long time on each of all tectonic elements present in the map, to the point when I decided to assign each given fault a significance, marking them with appropriate symbols. Of course I am very well aware that my interpretations may not necessarily be always correct and contain errors, but my interpretations are supported by field evidence in most cases. However, should You keep spotting errors or mistakes, I would be grateful if You could please kindly mark them in the map and/or the profile and I will pay great attention to Your indications, evaluating case-by-case whether Your views are convincing/plausible and eventually correct my recognized mistakes.

4: Concerning the deformation style: In the „Tectonics“ section, it is now clearly fact that at least two compressive deformation events of Tertiary age were active in both subzones; and that repeated and superimposed extensional events followed, to dissect and offset the former compressional structures. Therefore, even though the structures might at first sight remind those commonly observed in the outer orogenic zones, yet the deformation style used to illustrate the structural architecture along the profile, is indeed consistent with, and thus to be considered typical of, that of the internal provinces of the Northern Apennines. And finally: The „Serie Toscana ridotta“ present in the map and in profile 1, does not exist in the external part of the Northern Apennines.

Please note: since during field work I noticed that the dip and strike of strata, the foliation and the -axes often change their directions within short distance, I decided to represent them with small symbols in the map. The reader will still be able to see each measurement on the map, and infer strike and dip directions from each mapped outcrop. One problem arose while trying to place in the map the symbols that are commonly used to indicate overturned beds or reverse stratigraphic polarity, when I found that it was difficult to adapt these symbols due to the frequent small outcrop size. However, in order to overcome this difficulty yet willing to indicate overturned strata, I chose a distinct colour for the symbol indicating overturned beds (see legend).

Photos:

1: You request that the photos must be organized in tables. 2: And You criticize that those showing the structural setting contain too much information instead of being restricted to key elements. 3: A final figure explaining the entire structural evolution of the MRMCC is missing.

Answers:

1: The photos are now organized in five tables referring to a certain theme or to related themes (lithological properties, interformational lithostratigraphic boundaries, tectonic structures):

Table 1: Figs. 5a-f: Cataclasite, Calcare cavernoso, Tocchi Formation, Upper Verrucano;

Table 2: Figs. 6a-e: Upper Verrucano, Monte Quoio Formation, Civitella Marittima Formation;

Table 3: Figs. 7a-e: Civitella Marittima-, Farma-, Carpineta Fm; brachiopods of Carpineta Fm.;

Table 4: Figs. 8a-d: Civitella Marittima-, Carpineta-, Poggio al Carpino- and Risanguigno Fm.;

Table 5: Figs. 9a-e: Tectonic structures.

The proposed positions for the Tables are marked in the main text.

2: I am sure that You specifically refer to Fig. 3, which is indeed full of information. But these facts are all related to the main topic, which deals with the origin and development of one of the main metamorphic core complexes, which have evolved in the inner zone of Tuscany and which deals with its palaeotectonic and stratigraphic position. This is a problem that has been addressed by many researchers during the 1980s, when the pre-thrusting positions of the main palaeogeographical domains were highly controversial. So I regarded it as necessary to have elaborated an overview, which contains the most current and accepted views about the data on ages - magmatic, metamorphic, depositional - of stratigraphic units contained in metamorphic core complexes in the nearfield of the MRMCC and the accompanying magmatism. Due to the fact that over the time many of these data have been created by international research teams in that region, in which more than a dozen MCCs exist, Fig. 3 must contain as much information as possible, which I attempted to delineate as clearly as possible within the limited space available. This perhaps could have been achieved in an even more effective way; however, I cannot think of a better drawing technique to obtain a clearer Fig. 3. As a consequence, in order to reduce the density of data in Fig. 3, I relinquished on the representation of the sites of the very rare depositional relics of marine Early Permian.

3: I have already begun to ponder a graphical representation to illustrate the geological history of the MRMCC; this step would need months to achieve a satisfying solution. Something I can add to justify the lack of such an illustration in the revised manuscript is that this contribution is specifically intended, as from its title, to outline the „Preliminary results and considerations“ on the geological development of this part of Tuscany. In addition to this, another point to justify the lack of a synoptic illustration is that I have not yet mapped the rest of subzone I and the entire subzone III. This means that actually I do not have gathered enough knowledge to build representations of subzones I and III, soundly based on sufficient geological data. I have been working in the area for three decades, and I am certainly well aware that it would be necessary to investigate subzones I and III with the same amount of detail that I devoted to gain a clear scenario of the area mapped so far, and that makes the focus of this manuscript dealing with „preliminary results and considerations“. For this reason, I believe that, for how plausible and desirable, Your request of a comprehensive illustration for the development of the central part of the MRMCC is premature, and that its accomplishment will require additional time and observations in nearby, neighbouring domains flanking the mapped area. Therefore I will start to elaborate the structural model when I will have finished mapping the entire Farma Valley.

Many thanks for Your efforts!

Yours sincerely

Hubert Engelbrecht

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To Prof. ...:

Dear Professor,

Many thanks for your detailed work, in which You addressed lines and page numbers of points in my manuscript which had to be amended. I accepted nearly all the corrections proposed by You, which concern spelling, English grammatics and also imprecise terms.

In particular:

Page 3, line 13: I agree with the content recommended here, because it focusses the scope of my study.

Page 3, line 24 - page 4, line 8: I replaced these less important sentences similar to Your proposal: The geological survey and the already accomplished mapping of the chosen area, which covers ca. 30 km, was carried out during the 1979-2023 time span.

Page 14, lines 18-20: I amended this unclearly formulated sentence as follows: The „serie Toscana ridotta“ was not considered by Perrone et al. (2006).

Page 16, lines 12-13: I amended this vague formulated sentence as follows: thus the compressive Hercynian events postulated by Conti et al. (1991) and others supposed to have occurred in the MRMCC became meaningless.

Page 25, line 2: A substitution of the expression „beige-coloured“ with „pale brown in colour“ is proposed. But I prefer here and elsewhere in the text not to substitute.

Page 44: I refer to -axes, as defined by Ramsay & Huber 1987: 335-336).


In addition:

On page 22 I added : …and the presence of a rejuvenated relief onshore...

On page 23 I added: iv) Mentioned authors state that the Farma Formation was deposited with hiatus above the Late Carboniferous Spirifer Schists. But according to personal observations, the Spirifer Schists are stratigraphically overlain by the Civitella Marittima Formation of Permian age (Engelbrecht 2008: 295, 297); and the Farma Formation was deposited above the Risanguigno Formation (see chapter „Stratigraphy“).

Many thanks for Your efforts!

Yours sincerely

Hubert Engelbrecht

---------------------------------

Dear Professor (associate editor) ....,

Thanks for commenting and criticizing my manuscript. You recommend 1: changes and amendments concerning more focus in the introduction, 2: amendment of the structure of the text, so that it is in accordance with the standard style of scientific publication; i. e. expecially the separation of data from discussion and 3: the logic organisation of the stratigraphy and the tectonic events. 4: You further note that some points in the discussion appear like personal statements rather than scientifically proven facts; this would be detrimental to the quality of the manuscript. 5: Additionally the linguistic style of the text and the geological legend need amendment.

Answers:

1: In order to better illustrate the focus and scope of the paper, the first paragraph of the „Introduction“ section was heavily restructured as follows:

„The architecture of orogenic interiors may be extremely complex due to protracted deformations

produced over millions of years. As a consequence, the structural style of these provinces may be

very difficult to unravel. Yet, detailed geological mapping of these and analogue settings may

provide crucial information to help reconstruct the local geological history. This paper aims at

illustrating the geological map of a part of the Farma River valley - an area located in SW Tuscany, in the heart of the Northern Apennines of Italy - and at explaining the resulting consequences for the origin of the Monticiano-Roccastrada metamorphic core complex.“

I relinquished on the following passages, which contain not appropriate information:

- „… and sometimes contradicting information from papers related to mentioned geological topics...“.

„... in sheltered areas it houses rare and relict species of the last glacial period like the conifer Taxus baccata LINNE (De Cosmo 2004), the beech Fagus sylvatica and the amphibium Triturus alpestris apuanus [Bonaparte, 1839] (Vanni et al. 2002).“

2: Critics and alternative views have been transferred to the „Discussion“ section.

3: „Stratigraphy“ section: The missing description of the tectonic unit „Tuscan nappe“, which consists here of two units made up of a cataclasite and the Calcare cavernoso, has been added. The bottom upward oriented stratigraphy was inverted, so that it can be read now top downwards. The listing of the geological formations is now organized referring to the tectonic units they are part of as well as to their geological ages.

I reorganized the „Tectonics“ section, so that the chronological subdivision of the tectonic events is now hopefully clearer than in the original version: In subzone I, two folding events of Late Oligocene - Early Miocene and Pliocene - Quaternary ages were discerned, followed by complex, repeated extensional and shearing events. The latter were grouped according to their strike directions and supposed relative ages. In subzone II, the compressive events were grouped according to the clustering of their strike directions of the constructed -axes, but their age relations could not be determined. The same accounts to the younger sets of normal faults and shear fractures. Because of the poor-to-very poor outcrop conditions, a more detailed subdivision of the tectonic events and determination of their relative ages was impossible.

4: The main points of disagreement, critics and alternative views in the „Discussion“ section are supported by at least one issue. I am aware that the same lines of evidence can lead to conclusions with different degrees of strength and that I was certainly not always able to supply exclusively convincing issues. I think that now neither in the „Discussion“ section nor elsewhere in this manuscript empty words or personal statements persist, which could degrade the quality of my attempts. It is true that I criticized opinions published in some other papers; but please keep in mind that I am really very self-critical, also referring in this contribution to what I now regard as my own errors published in earlier papers, see e. g. my erroneous interpretations of the stratigraphic position of the Carpineta Formation and of the bathymetry of the Risanguigno Basin. I also occasionally based my rationale on a few assumptions, which are however based on observational facts and on the experience I gained during 30 years of geological research in the working area; seen in this context, these are not to be considered empty words or personal statements.

5: I read again the text several times and attempted to amend its linguistic style. In addition, the second referee Prof. ..... helped by means of his revision of 23.12.2023 to amend the linguistic style. Concerning the geological legend, I inserted the structural element of the TUSCAN NAPPE, deleted the inappropriate headings „PALAEOZOIC BASEMENT – TUSCAN PERMOCARBONIFEROUS“ as well as „TUSCAN CRYSTALLINE“ to replace these terms with better concepts and amended the visibility of the heteropy of the Carboniferous formations as well as the homogeneity of their substratum in that way that I put the Carboniferous formations of the subzones I and II on uniform level in the stratigraphic column.

Should You believe that it could be necessary for me to check or revise some of the described data or situations in the working area, please be informed that I will be available, through my mobile phone from 31.03.-28.04.2024, when I will spend a field stay in Farma Valley, having the possibility to visit the places mentioned in the manuscript.

Many thanks for Your efforts!

Yours sincerely

Hubert Engelbrecht

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02-Jan-2024 Dear Dr. Engelbrecht: the manuscript entitled "A geological survey of the Farma Valley (Monticiano-Roccastrada metamorphic core complex, Southern Tuscany, Italy) Preliminary report" which you submitted to the journal, has been reviewed. The comments of the Associate Editori and peer reviewers are included at the bottom of this letter. The Associate Editor has recommended publication, but also indicate that major revisions are needed before we can proceed with your manuscript. Therefore, I invite you to respond to the AE's and peer reviewers' comments and revise your manuscript to provide a suitably revised version. Reviews are constructive and provide an effective guidance to achieve this endeavour. ........... Because we are trying to facilitate timely publication of manuscripts submitted to the journal, your revised manuscript should be uploaded within the next 60 DAYS. If it is not possible for you to submit your revision in this reasonable amount of time, we may have to consider your paper as a new submission. Once again, thank you for submitting your manuscript to the journa and I look forward to receiving your revision. Sincerely, Prof... Editor in Chief of the journal.

Prof...., Associate Editor's Recommendations Associate Editor Comments to the Author: Dear Dr. Engelbrecht, we have now received two reviews of your manuscript. I have myself read with interest your contributtion. As you shall see, the reviewers have come to drastically different conclusions, with one suggesting rejection and the second acceptance pending minor revisions. Having said this, however, I believe that your work deserves publication and so suggest to the Chief Editor to reconsider your contribution after you will have implemented a necessary series of changes and revisions aimed at making the text better structured and aligned with the standard format of scientific papers. In particular, the manuscript currently reads more like a report, where data and discussion are mixed and there is no logical thread in the description of the stratigraphic successions, of the structural framework or of the deformation episodes. Additionally, some of your takes and perspectives in the discussion currently read more like personal points of view rather than solid scientific elements, which makes the whole approach rather weak and questionable. It is fine to disagree with the others, but it should be argued why that is the case and why our alternative view is necessarily better. I would thus suggest to reorganise the structure of the paper in a standard way, with a clear introduction stating what the aims are and what toolbox has been used. Then, a general description of the geological background needs to be followed by the original part of the study and a description of the new results obtained during mapping. This section can be directly linked to the description of the geological map, but this needs to be done in a systematic and scientific fashion, separating data of different type. I see that the linguistic side of the text requires some polishing as does the map and the text of the legend. But, all in all, that should come after the manuscript has been restructured and fixed according to the constructive inputs by both reviewers. I reiterate the importance of this neat work and truly hope that you will producing a new version of your paper where, on the basis of the received inputs, you'll have the chance to share with the community your important work. Kind regards. Prof...

Anonymous reviewer's comments to author: Dear Author, I have read your manuscript with attention and interest but I regret having to advise against publishing your manuscript in its present form. It's a shame because your manuscript does an excellent review of the present literature and also offers some inputs mainly on the topic of Paleozoic stratigraphic succession. However, due to the way you structured the text and the way you attempted to describe both the stratigraphic and structural framework, your manuscript, in my opinion, does not follow a conventional standard. So I would suggest you review the manuscript and try submitting it again after some work. Main criticisms are here listed: Introduction: The introduction should be better focused on the scientific problem that you want carry out on the manuscript. From what has been written it is not clear what the objective of the study was, apart from the problem of stibnite minealizations and the disillusioned hope of finding pre-Paleozoic successions. Furthermore, there is information mixed in that should be included in subsequent and dedicated chapters. Geological Setting: The geological setting is too dispersive and refers to concepts, situations and settings that are not strictly relevant to the study area. You must contextualize the study area and briefly illustrate the tectonic and stratigraphic structure according to what is known in the literature, avoiding inserting misleading references and parts of discussion. Privous Work: Previous work is a very useful chapter because it takes stock of the state of the art of the study area, according to the different topics. However, the present structure of this chapter is too didactic, while you would need to provide a reasoned summary of the data present in the literature, topic by topic rather than a list of what you said. Stratigraphy: The part dedicated to the description of the stratigraphic succession is very rich and provides important data. However, the data presentation is not well organized: the stratigraphic unit should be described separating the different tectonic units (i.e. metamorphic Units, Ligurian Units, Tuscan Nappe…). Furthermore, description is mixed with long discussions and this leads the reader to confusion. Furthermore, in the part dedicated to the attribution of age, you criticize the interpretations of other authors without providing data to support your criticism; obviously you can express your dissent (always in a chapter dedicated to the discussion and not to the presentation of the data) but bringing supporting data, otherwise the criticisms become empty words not useful in a scientific paper. Furthermore, the description of the lithostratigraphic units should be made from the youngest to the oldest and from the geometrically highest tectonic units in the stack. Tectonics: This chapter makes a random description of the structures, without however following a standard and with a style more similar to a report than a scientific publication. You should describe the structures by dividing them into families and tectonic phases/events, rather than referring to uncategorized structures by referring them to locations that no one can know (i.e. Belagaio, q. 120... etc...). Unfortunately, I understand that the you has made multiple observations, some of them very useful and which deserve to be valorised, but this content must be presented with a conventional "language", following a descriptive standard of a scientific publication. An appropriate chapter dealing with the discussion is missing as discussion is widespread within the text. In addition, the conclusion should better highlight which are the main novelties Figures The geological map should be presented with a more appropriate standard, with the legend placed to the side, with the geological section placed below and with the geological symbols clearly highlighted. Furthermore, beyond the graphic aspect, there are geometric problems on faults and thrusts; at the same time the deformation style seems more typical of the outer rather than inner sector of the Northern Apennines, characterized by at least two folding events followed by polyphased extension. Photographs should be organized in tables and not presented separately. Figures dedicated to the structural setting should be choose for illustrating key elements. Instead, everything is structured as if it were the description of a thesis or a report. A final figure would be needed that better shows the structural framework in the evolutionary context of this chain sector. I hope this help you to better reorganize this manuscipt. Regards

Reviewer's comments to the author: Report by Prof. ... for the manuscript titled “A geological survey of the Farma Valley (Monticiano-Roccastrada metamorphic core complex, Southern Tuscany, Italy) – Preliminary report by Hubert Engelbrecht, submitted for consideration to the journal. Dear associate editor: The manuscript has now undergone my revision. I am sorry for having taken longer than expected in returning my review, but this task has come in a time of year made difficult by a bad flu from which I am slowly recovering. This paper provides a reconstruction of the geometry and framework of rocks exposed along the Farma Valley, a very significant transect transversal to the Monticiano-Roccastrada metamorphic core complex, part of the Mid Tuscan Ridge. The manuscript summarizes the results of a lifetime fieldwork covering the 1979-to-present interval of geological research by the Author, including the compilation of a really very detailed 1:10.000 scale geological map corredated by a cross-section, aimed at providing original constraints to a domain whose geological history is pivotal for an enhanced understanding of the development of the Apennine orogenic belt. The manuscript is also based on the collection, illustration and description of integrated stratigraphic and structural data. Being a local geologist, I have never seen a geological representation of this very complex area that is provided in terms of such a fine detail. Many geologists (including myself) that have faced the analysis of different aspects of the stratigraphy and/or of the structure of this area would have enormously benefitted from this study, had this been available, and that now comes as a solid ground for future research. I believe that the map and cross-sections, by themselves, are worthed publication. But being these products accompanied by many original data, it is my opinion that the entire manuscript does indeed represent a major achievement to the local and regional geology, as well as to science. The topic dealt with is of utmost interest to anyone wishing to gain an insight in understanding the complex tectonic and geodynamic architecture of the Mid Tuscan Ridge, and to try unravel possible controls exerted by inherited deformation features during the phases that led to stacking of the tectonic units making the Northern Apennines orogenic pile. Therefore it goes well beyond a mere documentation of just local or parochial interest, but rather, starting from the local geology investigated by means of (to my knowledge) unprecedent detail, sets the scene for a better elucidation of the geodynamic evolution of the Apennines orogenic system. The manuscript is rich of information and very well organized, with English and presentation forms that are good to very good indeed. However, several sentences need attention and may be further improved in style or, more rarely, for the sake of an enhanced understanding. Enclosed you will find a separate list of points keyed to the text and figures that require attention and minor revision. The illustrations and tables are all clear, legible and very much informative. But the item that makes this manuscript a superb contribution is the occurrence of the map and related cross-section, coupled with stratigraphic and structural information. It is my opinion that this document will serve as ground to all geologists facing the task to providing an illustration of various specialistic aspects of the geology of this complex part of the italian Apennines. As only a possible example of the above statement, the manuscript and its related products will provide a solid ground to the future compilation intended in the CARG project of revision of the official Geological Map of Italy. The overall quality of the contribution is high-to-very high. Good credit is given to the existing literature (regional and methodological), to published maps and cross-sections; only very few papers, that are omitted at present, should be acknowledged and instructions on how to do so are provided separately. I found this an extremely stimulating contribution and believe that it will make a very appropriate title for an international and multidisciplinary audience with an interest in how local, detailed studies and mapping can contribute to an enhanced unserstanding of the very complex geology of the inner parts of the Northern Apennines. It is my opinion that the manuscript should be accepted for publication, with only some adjustements to the text and figure captions as outlined in a separate list of points. Please note that the points raised may be many, but the revision required is minimal to minor and suggestions on how to achieve a more legible item are provided therein. Based on the above considerations, I recommend that the manuscript is accepted for publication on the journal, only pending on minor revisions. I require no anonimity and wish that all my comments are forwarded to the Author. I hope that my review is received as a constructive indication. Thank you very much for providing the opportunity to evaluate this very interesting contribution. December 23rd, 2023, Sincerely, Prof. ...

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