Geologische Rundschau

, Volume 82, Issue 1, pp 67–83 | Cite as

An attempt to define a “neotectonic period” for central and northern Europe

  • A. Becker


The ‘neotectonic period’ is the youngest period of tectonic evolution and extends up to the present. The beginning of the neotectonic period during the Cenozoic may be regarded as having begun when characteristic changes in the tectonic evolution of a region of interest have occurred for the last time. Changes in the different tectonic facets, which characterize the evolution of a region, need not be simultaneous, and hence the times of the last change may differ between facets. This leads to the definition of a ‘transitional time interval’ wherein elements of both the ‘palaeotectonic’ and neotectonic period are present. The length of this transitional time interval depends on the regional geological evolution. Where a broad transitional time interval exists, the beginning of the neotectonic period may be defined by the earliest time marker by when most of the characteristic changes of the tectonic evolution of the region had occurred.

In defining the neotectonic period in central and northern Europe, data on the evolution of the northern Mid-Atlantic ridge and the northern Mediterranean convergence zone, inversion tectonics in northern and central Europe, rifting, regional subsidence and uplift, and the tectonic stress field as well as the evolution of the calcalkaline and alkaline volcanism in central Europe have been taken into account. The chronological evolution of these ‘characteristics’ for the Cenozoic have been analysed with a view to identifying the advent of the neotectonic period. The transition from the end of the palaeotectonic period to the beginning of the neotectonic period extends from the middle early Miocene to the Miocene-Pliocene boundary. The earliest time by when most of the characteristic changes in the tectonic evolution of northern and central Europe had occurred is the early late Miocene. Thus, the neotectonic period can be considered to have begun at approximately 10 Ma before present.

Key words

Neotectonics central Europe northern Europe 


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© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Becker
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Geophysik, ETH-HönggerbergZürichSwitzerland

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