International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 95, Issue 3, pp 431–450

Jurassic strike slip versus subduction in the Eastern Alps

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00531-005-0045-7

Cite this article as:
Frank, W. & Schlager, W. Int J Earth Sci (Geol Rundsch) (2006) 95: 431. doi:10.1007/s00531-005-0045-7


Late Jurassic formations of the Northern Calcareous Alps (NCA) contain ample evidence of synsedimentary tectonics in the form of elongate basins filled with turbidites, debris flows and slumps. Clasts are derived from the Mesozoic of the NCA; they commonly measure tens of metres in diameter and occasionally form kilometre-size bodies. These sedimentologic observations and the presumed evidence of Late Jurassic high-pressure metamorphism recently led to the hypothesis of a south-dipping Jurassic subduction zone with accretionary wedge in the southern parts of the NCA. We present new 40Ar/39Ar dates from the location of the postulated high-pressure metamorphism that bracket the age of this crystallization not earlier than 114–120 Ma. The event is therefore part of the well-documented mid-Cretaceous metamorphism of the Austro-alpine domain. Thus, there is currently no evidence of Late Jurassic high-pressure metamorphism to support the subduction hypothesis. The sediment record of the Late Jurassic deformation in the NCA, including the formation of local thrust sheets, is no conclusive evidence for subduction. All these phenomena are perfectly compatible with synsedimentary strike-slip tectonics. Large strike-slip fault zones with restraining and releasing bends and associated flower structures and pull-apart basins are a perfectly viable alternative to the subduction model for the Late Jurassic history of the NCA. However, in contrast to the Eastern Alps transect, where arguments for a Jurassic subduction are missing, a glaucophane bearing Jurassic high-pressure metamorphism in the Meliatic realm of the West Carpathians is well documented. There, the high-pressure/low-temperature slices occur between the Gemeric unit and the Silica nappe system (including the Aggtelek-Rudabanya units), which corresponds in facies with the Juvavic units in the southern part of the NCA. To solve the contrasting palaeogeographic reconstructions we propose that the upper Jurassic left lateral strike-slip system proposed here for the Eastern Alps continued eastwards and caused the eastward displacement of the Silica units into the Meliatic accretionary wedge.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geological Institute, CEAL-LaboratorySlovak Academy of ScienceBratislavaSlovakia
  2. 2.Vrije Universiteit/Earth and Life SciencesAmsterdamNetherlands