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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2019-115
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2019-115
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 11 Jul 2019

Submitted as: research article | 11 Jul 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal Solid Earth (SE) and is expected to appear here in due course.

Density distribution across the Alpine lithosphere constrained by 3D gravity modelling and relation to seismicity and deformation

Cameron Spooner1,2, Magdalena Scheck-Wenderoth1,3, Hans-Jürgen Götze4, Jörg Ebbing4, and György Hetényi5 Cameron Spooner et al.
  • 1GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, Potsdam University, Potsdam, Germany
  • 3Department of Geology, Geochemistry of Petroleum and Coal, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany
  • 4Institute of Geosciences, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, Kiel, Germany
  • 5Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

Abstract. The Alpine Orogen formed as a result of the collision between the Adriatic and European plates. Significant crustal heterogeneity exists within the region due to the long history of interplay between these plates, other continental and oceanic blocks in the region, and inherited crustal features from earlier orogenys. Deformation relating to the collision continues to the present day. Here, a seismically constrained, 3D, structural and density model of the lithosphere of the Alps and their respective forelands, derived from integrating numerous geoscientific datasets, was adjusted to match the observed gravity field. It is shown that the distribution of seismicity and deformation within the region correlates strongly to thickness and density changes within the crust, and that the present day Adriatic crust is both thinner and denser (22.5 km, 2800 kg/m3) than the European crust (27.5 km, 2750 kg/m3). Alpine crust derived from each respective plate is found to show the same trend with zones of Adriatic provenance (Austro-Alpine and Southern Alps) found to be denser and those of European provenance (Helvetic Zone and Tauern Window) to be less dense suggesting the respective plates and related terrains had similar crustal properties to the present day prior to orogenesis. The model generated here is available for open access use to further discussions about the crust within the region.

Cameron Spooner et al.
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Cameron Spooner et al.
Cameron Spooner et al.
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Short summary
By utilising both the observed gravity field of the Alps and their forelands and indications from deep seismic surveys we were able to produce a 3D structural model of the region that indicates the distribution of densities within the lithosphere. We found that the present day Adriatic crust is both thinner and denser than the European crust and that the properties of Alpine crust are strongly linked to their provenance.
By utilising both the observed gravity field of the Alps and their forelands and indications...
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