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The Variscan tectonic inheritance of the Upper Rhine Graben: evidence of reactivations in the Lias, Late Eocene–Oligocene up to the recent

  • J.-B. Edel
  • K. Schulmann
  • Y. Rotstein
Original Paper

Abstract

Processing of gravity and magnetic maps shows that the basement of the Upper Rhine Graben area is characterized by a series of NE–SW trending discontinuities and elongated structures, identified in outcrops in the Vosges, Black Forest, and the Odenwald Mountains. They form a 40 km wide, N30–40° striking, sinistral wrench-zone that, in the Visean, shifted the Variscan and pre-Variscan structures by at least 43 km to the NE. Wrenching was associated with emplacement of several generations of plutonic bodies emplaced in the time range 340–325 Ma. The sub-vertical, NE–SW trending discontinuities in the basement acted as zones of weakness, susceptible to reactivation by subsequent tectonism. The first reactivation, marked by mineralizations and palaeomagnetic overprinting along NE–SW faults of the Vosges Mountains, results from the Liassic NW–SE extension contemporaneous with the break-up of Pangea. The major reactivation occurred during the Late Eocene N–S compression and the Early-Middle Oligocene E–W extension. The NE–SW striking basement discontinuities were successively reactivated as sinistral strike-slip faults, and as oblique normal faults. Elongated depocenters appear to form in association with reactivated Variscan wrench faults. Some of the recent earthquakes are located on NE–SW striking Variscan fault zones, and show sinistral strike-slip focal mechanisms with the same direction, suggesting also present reactivation.

Keywords

Rhine Graben Vosges Black Forest Odenwald Variscan Lias Tertiary Wrench fault Reactivation 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This is a contribution of Ecole et Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre and of UMR 7516 and UMR 7517 of CNRS and University Strabourg I. The authors wish to express their thanks to G. Gabriel, the Institut für Geowissenschafliche Gemeinschaftsaufgaben and the Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières for providing them with the gravity data used in this study. The results of this study were also presented at the EUCOR-URGENT workshop 2005. We acknowledge Prof. R.O. Greiling, Dr Werde, and Dr Just for their constructive comments.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UMR 7516, Institut de Physique du GlobeEcole et Observatoire des Sciences de la TerreStrasbourg CedexFrance
  2. 2.UMR 7517, Institut de Géologie–Centre de Géochimie Ecole et Observatoire des Sciences de la TerreStrasbourg CedexFrance
  3. 3.United States–Israel Binational Science FoundationJerusalemIsrael

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