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Volume 101 Supplement 1

Orogenic processes in the Alpine collision zone

A map-view restoration of the Alpine-Carpathian-Dinaridic system for the Early Miocene


A map-view palinspastic restoration of tectonic units in the Alps, Carpathians and Dinarides reveals the plate tectonic configuration before the onset of Miocene to recent deformations. Estimates of shortening and extension from the entire orogenic system allow for a semi-quantitative restoration of translations and rotations of tectonic units during the last 20 Ma. Our restoration yielded the following results: (1) The Balaton Fault and its eastern extension along the northern margin of the Mid-Hungarian Fault Zone align with the Periadriatic Fault, a geometry that allows for the eastward lateral extrusion of the Alpine-Carpathian-Pannonian (ALCAPA) Mega-Unit. The Mid-Hungarian Fault Zone accommodated simultaneous strike-perpendicular shortening and strike-slip movements, concomitant with strike-parallel extension. (2) The Mid-Hungarian Fault Zone is also the locus of a former plate boundary transforming opposed subduction polarities between Alps (including Western Carpathians) and Dinarides. (3) The ALCAPA Mega-Unit was affected by 290 km extension and fits into an area W of present-day Budapest in its restored position, while the Tisza-Dacia Mega-Unit was affected by up to 180 km extension during its emplacement into the Carpathian embayment. (4) The external Dinarides experienced Neogene shortening of over 200 km in the south, contemporaneous with dextral wrench movements in the internal Dinarides and the easterly adjacent Carpatho-Balkan orogen. (5) N–S convergence between the European and Adriatic plates amounts to some 200 km at a longitude of 14° E, in line with post-20 Ma subduction of Adriatic lithosphere underneath the Eastern Alps, corroborating the discussion of results based on high-resolution teleseismic tomography.

The displacement of the Adriatic Plate indenter led to a change in subduction polarity along a transect through the easternmost Alps and to substantial Neogene shortening in the eastern Southern Alps and external Dinarides. While we confirm that slab-pull and rollback of oceanic lithosphere subducted beneath the Carpathians triggered back-arc extension in the Pannonian Basin and much of the concomitant folding and thrusting in the Carpathians, we propose that the rotational displacement of this indenter provided a second important driving force for the severe Neogene modifications of the Alpine-Carpathian-Dinaridic orogenic system.

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Correspondence to Kamil Ustaszewski.

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Editorial Handling: Nikolaus Froitzheim & Stefan Bucher

Manuscript received March 3, 2008. Revision accepted June 6, 2008

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Ustaszewski, K., Schmid, S.M., Fügenschuh, B. et al. A map-view restoration of the Alpine-Carpathian-Dinaridic system for the Early Miocene. Swiss J. Geosci. 101 (Suppl 1), 273–294 (2008).

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