Swiss Journal of Geosciences

, Volume 101, Issue 1, pp 55-71

First online:

Late Jurassic tectonics and sedimentation: breccias in the Unken syncline, central Northern Calcareous Alps

  • Hugo OrtnerAffiliated withInstitute of Geology and Palaeontology, University of Innsbruck Email author 
  • , Michaela UstaszewskiAffiliated withInstitute of Geology and Palaeontology, University of InnsbruckDepartment of Geosciences, National Taiwan University
  • , Martin RittnerAffiliated withInstitute of Geology and Palaeontology, University of InnsbruckDepartment of Geology, Royal Holloway University of London

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This study analyses and discusses well preserved examples of Late Jurassic structures in the Northern Calcareous Alps, located at the Loferer Alm, about 35 km southwest of Salzburg. A detailed sedimentary and structural study of the area was carried out for a better understanding of the local Late Jurassic evolution. The Grubhörndl and Schwarzenbergklamm breccias are chaotic, coarse-grained and locally sourced breccias with mountain-sized and hotel-sized clasts, respectively. Both breccias belong to one single body of breccias, the Grubhörndl breccia representing its more proximal and the Schwarzenbergklamm breccia its more distal part, respectively. Breccia deposition occurred during the time of deposition of the Ruhpolding Radiolarite since the Schwarzenbergklamm breccia is underlain and overlain by these radiolarites. Formation of the breccias was related to a major, presumably north-south trending normal fault scarp. It was accompanied and post-dated by west-directed gravitational sliding of the Upper Triassic limestone (“Oberrhätkalk”), which was extended by about 6% on top of a glide plane in underlying marls. The breccia and slide-related structures are sealed and blanketed by Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous sediments. The normal fault scarp, along which the breccia formed, was probably part of a pull-apart basin associated with strike slip movements. On a regional scale, however, we consider this Late Jurassic strike-slip activity in the western part of the Northern Calcareous Alps to be synchronous with gravitational emplacement of “exotic” slides and breccias (Hallstatt mélange), triggered by Late Jurassic shortening in the eastern part of the Northern Calcareous Alps. Hence, two competing processes affected one and the same continental margin.


Jurassic tectonics Jurassic sedimentary rocks Unken syncline scarp breccia Northern Calcareous Alps Austria