The Tufiti di Tusa Formation, a siliciclastic turbidite system of lower Miocene age in southern Italy, is mainly composed of volcaniclastic and quartzolithic sandstones interbedded with mudrocks. Sandstones are subdivided into four distinctive petrofacies, evolving from quartzolithic to volcaniclastic lithofeldspathic and feldspatholithic, reflecting detrital evolution from growing orogen (quartzolithic petrofacies) to active volcanism (volcaniclastic petrofacies). The mineralogical composition of the associated mudrocks is predominantly characterized by phyllosilicates, mainly illite/smectite mixed layers (I/S R1 associated with minor amounts of I/S R0 in the lower part of the succession, and I/S R3 in its upper part), together with illite, detrital micas and chlorite, and minor amounts of chlorite/smectite mixed layers and kaolinite, in addition to quartz, calcite and feldspars. The most abundant phyllosilicates are I/S mixed layers, 10-Å minerals (illite and micas) and chlorite, while kaolinite and chlorite–smectite mixed layers are present as a few per cent or in trace amounts. X-ray diffraction patterns show the occurrence of the ordered I/S R1 mixed layers in most samples but, at the top of the succession, some samples are characterized by I/S R3 mixed layers, whilst in the lower part of the succession I/S R1 is associated with a lower amount of I/S R0. These features suggest that the Tufiti di Tusa Formation experienced a medium diagenetic grade, and the occurrence of I/S R3 could be explained by K-availability in samples in the upper part of the succession. The lithic fragments in sandstones are metasedimentary rocks of Palaeozoic age, and andesite to dacite volcanic rocks of early Miocene age. The associated mudrocks also contain trace element ratios (Cr/V, Y/Ni, La/Sc, Th/Sc, Th/Co, Th/Cr, Cr/Th and Eu/Eu*) consistent with a provenance containing intermediate to silicic sources with scarce or absent basic rocks. The chemical index of alteration (63.2 to 71.6) suggests a moderate degree of weathering in the source. Furthermore, the K/Cs ratios of sediments confirm likely moderate rather than intense weathering. The index of compositional variability (ICV) values (from 1.2 to 2.5) are high enough to suggest the mudrocks are first-cycle sediments with little recycling. The Al–Ti–Zr diagram and the Th/Sc v. Zr/Sc plot indicate poor sorting and rapid deposition of the sediments. Detrital and sedimentary evolution of the Tufiti di Tusa Formation provides constraints, in terms of relations between a growing orogenic system and active volcanism in the Central Mediterranean, to contribute to geodynamic and palaeogeographic reconstructions of the earliest collision in the southern Apennines region.