International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 102, Issue 4, pp 1071–1090 | Cite as

Kinematic analysis and analogue modelling of the Passeier- and Jaufen faults: implications for crustal indentation in the Eastern Alps

  • Stefan LuthEmail author
  • Ernst Willingshofer
  • Marten ter Borgh
  • Dimitrios Sokoutis
  • Jozua van Otterloo
  • Arno Versteeg
Original Paper


Crustal deformation in front of an indenter is often affected by the indenter’s geometry, rheology, and motion path. In this context, the kinematics of the Jaufen- and Passeier faults have been studied by carrying out paleostress analysis in combination with crustal-scale analogue modelling to infer (1) their relationship during indentation of the Adriatic plate and (2) their sensitivity in terms of fault kinematics to the geometry and motion path of Adria. The field study reveals mylonites along the Jaufen fault, which formed under lower greenschist facies conditions and is associated with top-to-the-west/northwest shear with a northern block down component. In addition, a brittle reactivation of the Jaufen shear zone under NNW–SSE to NW–SE compressional and ENE–WSW tensional stress conditions was deduced from paleostress analysis. The inferred shortening direction is consistent with fission track ages portraying Neogene exhumation of the Meran-Mauls basement south of the fault. Along the Passeier fault, deformation was only brittle to semi-ductile and paleostress tensors record that the fault was subjected to E–W extension along its northern segment varying into NW–SE compression and sinistral transpression along its southern segment. In the performed analogue experiments, a rigid, triangular shaped indenter was pushed into a sand pile resulting in the formation of a Passeier-like fault sprouting from the indenter’s tip. These kinds of north-trending tip faults formed in all experiments with shortening directions towards the NW, N, or NE. Consequently, we argue that the formation of the Passeier fault strongly corresponds to the outline of the Adriatic indenter and was only little affected by the indenter’s motion path due to induced strain partitioning in front of the different indenter segments. The associated fault kinematics along the Passeier fault including both E–W extension and NNW to NW shortening, however, is most consistent with a northward advancing Adriatic indenter.


Alps Orogeny Analogue modelling Geodynamics Structural geology Indentation tectonics Paleostress analysis 



We appreciate the effort carried out by the reviewers Hannah Pomella and anonymous reviewer whose suggestions helped to improve the quality of the manuscript. The analogue modelling experiments were carried out in the Tectonic laboratory (TecLab) of the Netherlands Research Centre for Integrated Solid Earth Science (ISES). Joyful discussions on analogue modelling and PIV analysis with Andrea Vondrak, Karen Leever, Inge van Gelder, Mélody Phillipon, and Javier Fernández Lozano contributed to the outcome of this study. We also want to thank the Augschelle family for their hospitality during our fieldtrips in South Tirol. This research was funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).

Supplementary material

531_2012_846_MOESM1_ESM.tif (6.3 mb)
Online Resource 1 a) Figure of the studied area showing the localities of measurements. (TIFF 6429 kb)
531_2012_846_MOESM2_ESM.lyr (12 kb)
Online Resource 1 b) ArcGIS Layer file containing the waypoints collected in 2007. (LYR 11 kb)
531_2012_846_MOESM3_ESM.lyr (14 kb)
Online Resource 1 c) ArcGis Layer file containing the waypoints collected in 2008. (LYR 13 kb)
531_2012_846_MOESM4_ESM.xls (353 kb)
Online Resource 2 Table displaying all the collected measurements of ductile structures. (XLS 353 kb)
531_2012_846_MOESM5_ESM.xls (163 kb)
Online Resource 3 Table displaying all the collected measurements of brittle structures. (XLS 163 kb)

Online Resource 4 Animation of experiment 1-A displaying top view deformation with ongoing shortening. (MPG 5583 kb)

Online Resource 5 Animation of experiment 1-B displaying top view deformation with ongoing shortening. (MPG 2689 kb)

Online Resource 6 Animation of experiment 1-C displaying top view deformation with ongoing shortening. (MPG 2727 kb)

Online Resource 7 Animation of experiment 1-D displaying top view deformation with ongoing shortening. (MPG 5110 kb)

Online Resource 8 Animation of experiment 2-A displaying top view deformation with ongoing shortening. (MPG 5240 kb)

Online Resource 9 Animation of experiment 2-B displaying top view deformation with ongoing shortening. (MPG 12691 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Luth
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Ernst Willingshofer
    • 2
  • Marten ter Borgh
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dimitrios Sokoutis
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jozua van Otterloo
    • 4
    • 1
  • Arno Versteeg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Earth and Life SciencesVU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Faculty of GeosciencesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of GeosciencesUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  4. 4.School of GeosciencesMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.Swedish Geological Survey (SGU)UppsalaSweden

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