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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2019-17
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2019-17
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 31 Jan 2019

Submitted as: research article | 31 Jan 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Solid Earth (SE). The revised manuscript was not accepted.

Slab Break-offs in the Alpine Subduction Zone

Emanuel D. Kästle1, Claudio Rosenberg2, Lapo Boschi2,3, Nicolas Bellahsen2, Thomas Meier4, and Amr El-Sharkawy4,5 Emanuel D. Kästle et al.
  • 1Institute of Geological Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
  • 2Institut des Sciences de la Terre, Paris (iSTeP), Sorbonne Université, Paris, France
  • 3Dipartimento di Geoscienze, Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy
  • 4Christian Albrechts Universität Kiel, Germany
  • 5National Research Insititute of Astronomy and Geophysics (NRIAG), 11421, Helwan, Cairo, Egypt

Abstract. After the onset of plate collision in the Alps, tectonic processes are inferred to have changed dramatically in the Alps: European plate break-offs in various places of the Alpine arc, as well as a subduction polarity reversal in the eastern Alps have been proposed. We review body-wave tomographic studies, compare them to our surface-wave-derived model, and interpret them in terms of slab geometries. We infer that the shallow subducting portion of the European plate is likely detached under both the western and eastern (but not the central) Alps. The Alps-Dinarides transition may be explained by a combination of European and Adriatic subduction. This implies that the deep high-velocity anomaly (> 200 km depth) mapped by tomographers under the eastern Alps is a detached segment of the European plate. The shallower fast anomaly (100–200 km depth) can be ascribed to European or Adriatic subduction, or both. These findings are compared to previously proposed models for the eastern Alps in terms of slab geometry, but also integrated in a a new, alternative geodynamic scenario that best fits both tomographic images and geological constraints.

Emanuel D. Kästle et al.
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Interactive discussion
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Emanuel D. Kästle et al.
Emanuel D. Kästle et al.
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Short summary
We provide an extensive comparison of high-resolution subsurface models of the Alpine subduction zone. The imaged slab geometries are discussed in relation to the geodynamic evolution of the Alpine region. In the eastern Alps, we compare the models to three scenarios from the literature and propose a fourth one which best fits the tomographic images and the geological constraints. We find that the European slab is broken off below the entire Alpine arc, at variable depth levels.
We provide an extensive comparison of high-resolution subsurface models of the Alpine subduction...
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