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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2019-56
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2019-56
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 20 Mar 2019

Research article | 20 Mar 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.

Late Miocene thrusting in the North Alpine foreland: Driven by a deep-seated process and shaped by the local mechanical stratigraphy

Samuel Mock1, Christoph von Hagke2, Fritz Schlunegger1, István Dunkl3, and Marco Herwegh1 Samuel Mock et al.
  • 1Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern, Baltzerstrasse 1+3, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
  • 2Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, RWTH Aachen University Wüllnerstrasse 2, 52056 Aachen, Germany
  • 3Geoscience Center, Sedimentology and Environmental Geology, University of Göttingen Goldschmidtstrasse 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany

Abstract. Besides classical emplacement and accretion related nappe tectonics, the Oligocene to middle Miocene post-collisional evolution of the central European Alps was also characterized by pronounced vertically directed tectonics. These are expressed by backthrusting along the Insubric Line and the subsequent uplift of the External Crystalline Massifs (ECMs). During late Miocene times, the Central Alps experienced lateral growth when deformation propagated into the external parts of both the pro- and retro-side of the orogen. For the North Alpine foreland, pro-wedge propagation of deformation has been kinematically and spatially linked to the uplift and exhumation of the ECMs. In this paper, we investigate the young exhumation history of the North Alpine foreland. Based on low-temperature apatite (U-Th-Sm)/He thermochronometry, we constrain thrusting in the Subalpine Molasse between 12 Ma and 5 Ma, thus occurring coeval to the main deformation phase in the adjacent Jura fold-and-thrust belt (FTB) and late stage exhumation of the ECMs. However, this pattern of tectonic activity is not restricted to areas which are bordered by the ECMs, but is consistent along the entire front of the Central Alps, regardless of its hinterland architecture. The local-scale pattern of strain partitioning and style of deformation is governed by lateral variations in the sedimentary foreland basin architecture. We suggest that the large-scale constant tectonic signal is the response to a shift in tectonic forces caused by a deep-seated geodynamic process. This resulted in a change from dominantly vertical to orogen-scale horizontal tectonics and an associated orogen-perpendicular growth of crustal thickening. We constrain the onset of this major tectonic change to ca. 15 Ma in the Southern Alps and ca. 12 Ma in the North Alpine foreland, where it results in (re-)activation of thrusts in the Subalpine Molasse and folding in the Jura FTB.

Samuel Mock et al.
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Samuel Mock et al.
Samuel Mock et al.
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Short summary
Based on own and published age data, we can infer tectonic pulses along-strike the entire northern rim of the Central Alps between 12–4 million years. Although lithologic variations largely influence the local deformation pattern, the tectonic signal is remarkably consistent all the way from Lake Geneva to Salzburg. This might result from a deep-seated tectonic force and marks a change from dominantly vertical to large-scale horizontal tectonics in the late stage of Alpine orogeny.
Based on own and published age data, we can infer tectonic pulses along-strike the entire...
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