, Volume 87, Issue 4, pp 644-657

The change from rifting to thrusting in the Northern Calcareous Alps as recorded in Jurassic sediments

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Facies analysis, fossil dating, and the study of the metamorphism in the Late Triassic to Early Cretaceous sedimentary successions in the central part of the Northern Calcareous Alps allow to reconstruct the tectonic evolution in the area between the South Penninic Ocean in the northwest and the Tethys Ocean with the Hallstatt Zone in the southeast. The Triassic as well as the Early and Middle Jurassic sediments were deposited in a rifted, transtensive continental margin setting. Around the Middle/Late Jurassic boundary two trenches in front of advancing nappes formed in sequence in the central part of the Northern Calcareous Alps. The southern trench (Late Callovian to Early Oxfordian) accumulated a thick succession of gravitatively redeposited sediments derived from the sedimentary sequences of the accreted Triassic–Liassic Hallstatt Zone deposited on the outer shelf and the margin of the Late Triassic carbonate platform. During a previous stage these sediments derived from sequences deposited on the more distal shelf (Salzberg facies zone of Hallstatt unit, Meliaticum), and in a later stage from more proximal parts (Zlambach facies zone of Hallstatt unit, Late Triassic reef belt). Low temperature–high pressure metamorphism of some Hallstatt limestones before redeposition is explained by the closure of parts of the Tethys Ocean in Middle to Late Jurassic times and associated subduction. In the northern trench (Late Oxfordian to Kimmeridgian) several hundred meters of sediment accumulated including redeposited material from a nearby topographic rise. This rise is interpreted as an advancing nappe front as a result of the subduction process. The sedimentary sealing by Tithonian sediments, documented by uniform deep-water sedimentation (Oberalm Formation), gives an upper time constraint for the tectonic events. In contrast to current models, which propose an extensional regime for the central and eastern Northern Calcareous Alps in the Late Jurassic, we propose a geodynamic model with a compressional regime related to the Kimmerian orogeny.

Received: 14 May 1998 / Accepted: 12 October 1998