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Volume 101 Supplement 1

Orogenic processes in the Alpine collision zone

The Rila-Pastra Normal Fault and multi-stage extensional unroofing in the Rila Mountains (SW Bulgaria)


The Rhodope Metamorphic Province represents the core of an Alpine orogen affected by strong syn- and postorogenic extension. We report evidence for multiple phases of extensional unroofing from the western border of the Rila Mountains in the lower Rila valley, SW Bulgaria. The most prominent structure is the Rila-Pastra Normal Fault (RPNF), a major extensional fault and shear zone of Eocene to Early Oligocene age. The fault zone includes, from base to top, mylonites, ultramylonites and cataclasites, indicating deformation under progressively decreasing temperature, from amphibolite-facies to low-temperature brittle deformation. It strikes E–W with a top-to-the-N-to NW-directed sense of shear. Basement rocks in the hanging wall and footwall both display amphibolite-facies conditions. The foliation of the hanging-wall gneisses, however, is discordantly cut by the fault, while the foliation of the footwall gneisses is seen to curve into parallelism with the fault when approaching it. Two ductile splays of the RPNF occur in the footwall, which are subparallel to the foliation of the surrounding gneisses and merge laterally into the mylonites of the main fault zone. The concordance between the foliation in the footwall and the RPNF suggests that deformation and cooling in the footwall occurred simultaneously with extensional shearing, while the hanging-wall gneisses had already been exhumed previously. The RPNF is associated with thick deposits of an Early Oligocene, syntectonic breccia on top of its hanging wall. Integrating our results with previous studies, we distinguish the following stages of extensional faulting: (1) Late Cretaceous NW–SE extension (Gabrov Dol Detachment), exhumation of the present day hanging wall of the RPNF; (2) Eocene to Early Oligocene NW–SE to N–S extension (RPNF); (3) Miocene to Pliocene E–W extension (Western Border Fault), formation of the Djerman Graben; (4) Holocene to recent N–S to NW–SE extension (Stob Fault), reactivating the SW part of the Western Border Fault.

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Correspondence to Silke Schmidt.

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Editorial Handling: Stefan Schmid & Stefan Bucher

Manuscript received 29 January, 2008 Revision accepted 9 May, 2008

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Tueckmantel, C., Schmidt, S., Neisen, M. et al. The Rila-Pastra Normal Fault and multi-stage extensional unroofing in the Rila Mountains (SW Bulgaria). Swiss J. Geosci. 101 (Suppl 1), 295–310 (2008).

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