International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 108, Issue 6, pp 2071–2095 | Cite as

The syn-rift stratigraphic record across a fossil hyper-extended rifted margin: the example of the northwestern Adriatic margin exposed in the Central Alps

  • Charlotte RibesEmail author
  • Gianreto Manatschal
  • Jean-François Ghienne
  • Garry D. Karner
  • Christopher A. Johnson
  • Patricio H. Figueredo
  • Nicolò Incerpi
  • Marie-Eva Epin
Original Paper


To understand the overall spatial and temporal evolution and resulting sedimentary stacking patterns within an evolving hyper-extended rift system, we investigated the Austroalpine and Upper Penninic nappes in the Central Alps. These nappes preserve pristine remnants of the northwestern Adriatic rifted margin showing the transition from stretched and hyper-extended continental crust to exhumed mantle of a sediment-starved, magma-poor rifted margin. Our paper reviews sedimentological and structural data that enable us to determine a general chrono-tectono-stratigraphic framework for the syn-rift succession of the margin. The detailed study of the facies distribution within the different rift domains, including proximal, necking, hyper-extended, and exhumed mantle domains, allow us to identify syn- and post-tectonic sedimentary packages. The correlation of these sedimentary packages between the rift domains is based on the identification of basin-wide correlative stratigraphic intervals linked to global or basin-wide Jurassic events: (1) the Early Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event; (2) an Early Bajocian bio-siliceous event; and (3) the onset of Tithonian carbonate-dominated sedimentation. Using these timelines, we could recognize the oceanward propagation of the syn-tectonic package from the proximal to the exhumed mantle domains as a function of time. A key observation is that syn-tectonic packages can be compartmentalized into four tectonic system tracts across the margin. Each system tract and their associated bounding surfaces record the stratigraphic evolution and change in deformation mode related to distinct and successive syn-rift phases that correspond to the stretching (~ 10My), necking (~ 6My), hyper-extension (~ 15My), and mantle exhumation (~ 18My) phases.


Syn-rift Tectonic system tracts Hyper-extended rifted margin Alpine Tethys margin 



This research was supported by ExxonMobil as part of the CEIBA project (Center of Excellence In Basin Analysis). The authors acknowledge the constructive and helpful reviews of Jakob Skogseid, Philip Ball and an anonymous reviewer and comments by the Topic Editor Nikolaus Froitzheim and the Editor Wolf-Christian Dullo that helped us to improve the paper. J. Tugend is thanked for help in the field and ensuing discussions. G. Mohn, E. Masini are thanked for discussions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Geologische Vereinigung e.V. (GV) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charlotte Ribes
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gianreto Manatschal
    • 1
  • Jean-François Ghienne
    • 1
  • Garry D. Karner
    • 2
  • Christopher A. Johnson
    • 2
  • Patricio H. Figueredo
    • 2
  • Nicolò Incerpi
    • 1
  • Marie-Eva Epin
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut de Physique du Globe de Strasbourg – Ecole et Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre, CNRS UMR 7516Université de StrasbourgStrasbourg CedexFrance
  2. 2.ExxonMobil Upstream Integrated Solutions Company, Global Tectonics and StructureSpringUSA

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