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TECTONICS, VOL. 21, NO. 6, 1051, doi:10.

1029/2001TC901028, 2002

Interplay between subduction retreat and lateral extrusion:
Tectonics of the Western Carpathians
Blanka Sperner1
Geophysical Institute, University of Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany

Lothar Ratschbacher1
Geological Institute, University of Freiberg, Freiberg, Germany

Michal Nemcˇok2
Energy and Geoscience Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Received 20 July 2001; revised 11 March 2002; accepted 7 June 2002; published 13 November 2002.

[1] Analysis of brittle microstructures reveals three

Tertiary deformation events in the Western Carpathians:
(1) Late Paleogene bedding-parallel extension; (2)
Oligocene (?) to middle Miocene NNE-SSW
compression and ESE-WNW extension; (3) post-midMiocene NW-SE extension. These regional
deformations, applied to crustal blocks in the intraCarpathian region, resulted from forces which were
induced by the coupled plate tectonic processes of
subduction retreat beneath the Carpathian arc and
lateral extrusion from the Eastern Alps toward the
Carpathian region. Material flow from the Alps spread
toward east and NE, guided by sinistral strike-slip zones
along the NE trending continental margin. Subduction
retreat was terminated by mid-Miocene ‘‘soft’’ collision
of the Inner Western Carpathians with the European
foreland. Ongoing subduction retreat beneath the
Eastern Carpathians caused post-mid-Miocene back
arc extension forming the Pannonian basin. Extension
spread into the Western Carpathians by reactivating the
extrusion-related strike-slip faults as normal
INDEX TERMS: 8110 Tectonophysics: Continental
faults.
tectonics—general (0905); 8025 Structural Geology: Mesoscopic
fabrics; 8015 Structural Geology: Local crustal structure; 9335
Information Related to Geographic Region: Europe; 9604
Information Related to Geologic Time: Cenozoic; KEYWORDS:
Carpathians, fault slip data, deformation analysis, subduction
retreat, lateral extrusion, Tertiary. Citation: Sperner, B., L.
Ratschbacher, and M. Nemcˇok, Interplay between subduction
retreat and lateral extrusion: Tectonics of the Western Carpathians,
Tectonics, 21(6), 1051, doi:10.1029/2001TC901028, 2002.

1
Formerly at Geological Institute, University of Tu¨bingen, Tu¨bingen,
Germany.
2
Formerly at Diony´z Sˇtu´r Institute of Geology, Bratislava.

Copyright 2002 by the American Geophysical Union.
0278-7407/02/2001TC901028$12.00

1. Introduction
[2] Lateral extrusion has been described as a plate
tectonic process operating in continental collision where
tectonic escape of crustal blocks occurs from the collisional
site to its lateral margins [e.g., Molnar and Tapponnier,
1975] and where extensional collapse causes thickened,
topographically elevated, and thus gravitationally unstable
continental crust to flow toward lower levels [e.g., England
and Houseman, 1988]. The combination of both processes
results in crustal movements perpendicular to the convergence direction of the growing orogen (see definition of
lateral extrusion by Ratschbacher et al. [1991a]). As shown
by analogue modeling done by Ratschbacher et al. [1991a]
such movements can only occur if a weak lateral boundary
is given. Subduction retreat is one of the plate tectonic
processes providing such a weak lateral boundary because
it is characterized by a subduction velocity which is faster
than the convergence velocity [Royden, 1993a, 1993b].
This velocity difference is in some cases completely balanced by back arc extension (e.g., Caribbean Plate, Sandwich/Scotia Plate), while it is in other cases (partly)
compensated by lateral extrusion from a nearby collision
zone (e.g., India-Asia collision with lateral extrusion
toward the eastern Asian subduction zones). We study the
interplay between these two coupled processes, lateral
extrusion and subduction retreat, in the Western Carpathians (Figure 1) which were strained by both processes
during the Miocene.
[3] When the Adriatic microplate collided with the European foreland lateral extrusion of the central Eastern Alps
toward the Carpathian region occurred (Figure 1 inset and
Figure 2a). Thorough analyses of structural data as well as
analogue modeling support this view [Ratschbacher et al.,
1991a, 1991b]. Here we summarize the arguments that at
the same time oceanic subduction continued beneath the
Carpathians until the middle Miocene: (1) Middle Oligocene to Middle Miocene shortening in the Outer Carpathian
fold and thrust belt (= accretionary wedge) amounts to
about 260 km [Behrmann et al., 2000] and must be balanced by an equal amount of subduction. (2) Miocene
shortening in the Outer Carpathians occurred coeval with
extension in the Pannonian basin (= back arc basin)

1-1

1-2

SPERNER ET AL.: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS

Figure 1. Neogene tectonic map of the Carpathian-Pannonian region (geology based on Horva´th,
1993). The High Tatra Mountains are located in the middle of the rectangle labeled ‘‘Fig. 4, 6, 12.’’ Inset:
Crustal blocks of the Inner Carpathian-Pannonian region and youngest thrusting in the Outer Carpathians
[after Jirˇ´ıcˇek, 1979].
[Royden et al., 1983] which is a typical situation during
subduction retreat driven by the fast sinking of a heavy slab
(i.e., an oceanic slab). (3) Flexure of the European foreland
as reflected by the slab dip beneath the foredeep sediments
is far too intense to be explained solely by the load of the
overthrusted Outer Carpathians, and thus an additional
subsurface load, i.e., slab pull of an oceanic slab, is
necessary [Royden and Karner, 1984; Matenco et al.,
1997; Zoetemeijer et al., 1999]. (4) Seismic tomography
shows a steeply dipping high-velocity zone beneath the SE
Carpathians [Fan et al., 1998; Wenzel et al., 1998a, 1998b]
which is interpreted as the last remnant of such a subducted
slab [Sperner et al., 2001]. (5) In the same region intermediate-depth earthquakes (70 – 180 km depth) with focal
mechanisms characterized by downdip (subvertical) extension and radial subhorizontal compression [Oncescu and
Bonjer, 1997] indicate that slab pull is still active in this
region [Sperner et al., 2001]. (6) Calc-alkaline Neogene
volcanic rocks in the intra-Carpathian region which are
arranged parallel to the former trench line are typical for
subduction zones. (7) Lateral extrusion as proved for the

Eastern Alps was only possible if subduction retreat provided the space necessary for this eastward movement
[Ratschbacher et al., 1991a].
[4] The synchronous occurrence of continental collision
in the Eastern Alps (which already started earlier) and
oceanic subduction beneath the Carpathians originated from
an oceanic embayment in the southern margin of the European continent, the northeastward continuation of the Penninic ocean. Along this embayment east of the Eastern Alps
the orogenic arc of the Carpathians and its associated intraCarpathian basin system were built during the AlpineCarpathian orogeny (Figures 1 and 2 [e.g., Balla, 1985]).
The intra-Carpathian region (i.e., the upper plate during
Miocene subduction) comprises two crustal blocks, the
North Pannonian block which encloses the Inner Western
Carpathians and the northern part of the Pannonian basin
[Balla, 1986], and the Tisia-Dacia block which encompasses
the Inner Eastern Carpathians, the Southern Carpathians and
the southern part of the Pannonian basin (including the
Apuseni mountains and the Transylvanian basin) [Balla,
1987; Csontos, 1995] (Figure 1 and inset). These blocks

while continental collision affected the Alps resulting in lateral extrusion of the Eastern Alps (EA) and northeastward movement of the North Pannonian block (NPB). The labels ‘‘Eastern Alps’’ and ‘‘Carpathians’’ indicate the recent position of both orogens. 1998].SPERNER ET AL. are separated by a broad fault zone. (a) Subduction beneath the Carpathians continued. the Western Carpathians offer a first-order natural laboratory to investigate the tectonic interactions and expressions of lateral extrusion and subduction retreat on a lithospheric scale. which accommodated differential movements between the North Pannonian block and the Tisia-Dacia block (Figure 2a) [Csontos and Nagymarosy. 1997]. (b). successive continental collision starting in the Western Carpathians in the middle Miocene and ending in the Eastern Carpathians in the Pannonian (younging of youngest thrusts in the Outer Carpathians toward the east and south. Figure 1 inset and Figure 3). the Mid-Hungarian fault zone. (c) Northeastward subduction retreat beneath the Carpathians provided the weak lateral confinement necessary for the lateral extrusion of the Eastern Alps. Due to the spatial and temporal juxtaposition of collision and subduction. detachment of the subducted slab terminated the active continental margin stage along the Carpathian arc [Sperner et al..: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS 1-3 Figure 2. Plate tectonic situation in the Alpine-Carpathian region during the Tertiary. Structural geometries in the Eastern Alps and the outline of the pre-Neogene rocks in the Carpathians reflect the present-day situation. . Subsequent to collision. This enabled oblique.

presenting new kinematic data based on the analysis of brittle deformation structures. Correlation between Mediterranean and Central Paratethys stages after Ro¨gl [1996]. Methods [6] Faults and associated striae were used to analyze the brittle deformation of the Western Carpathians. The used . and deformation features. [5] Here we investigate changes in space and time of plate tectonic boundary conditions by analyzing the deformation of the upper crust in the Western Carpathian area. 2. Our aim is to understand the variability of the plate tectonic processes operating along strike at a particular collision site of the AlpineCarpathian belt.: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS Figure 3. A model for the estimated rock uplift of 12 km of the High Tatra Mountains is discussed and integrated into the above discussed plate tectonic framework. We focus on the northern part of the Western Carpathians where the High Tatra Mountains form a conspicuous geological and morphological feature. plate tectonics.1-4 SPERNER ET AL. Age stages.

The deformation has an axial (flattening or constriction) or biaxial (plane stress) geometry. 1993]. The latter is expressed in the data plots by different kinds of slip-sense arrows and allows a judgment of the quality of our database. the flysch series were detached from their basement and thrust northward over the European foreland. They are succeeded by a deeper shaly facies and later by flysch. Sperner et al... Early Eocene uplift as a narrow ridge (fission track data) [Kra´l. 1953]. Orientations of stress axes were calculated using various methods and associated computer programs: (1) P-B-T axes method [Turner.. while the Inner Western Carpathians are characterized by strike-slip faults. bearing and plunge of the striae. Reactivated faults with oblique striae usually cannot be rationally analyzed with the P-B-T axes or the numerical dynamic method. sense of slip of the hanging wall. which expresses the relationship between the magnitudes of the principal stresses [R = (s2 s3)/(s1 s3)]. that the compression and extension axes lie in the plane containing the striae and the fault plane normal. and sandstones [Nemcˇok et al. 1992].SPERNER ET AL. Figure 1) a (forearc) basin developed. conglomerates. They are transgressively overlain by Paleogene (Inner Carpathian Paleogene basin) and Neogene sediments (Danube basin and other basins) and by middle Miocene to Quaternary volcanic rocks (Figures 1 and 4). Curved fibers behind fault steps and crosscutting relationships give relative chronologies of movements. The orientation of these mainly sinistral strike-slip faults is controlled by the foreland geometry. In the western part of the Pieniny Klippen belt (west of the High Tatra Mountains) these dextral movements were overprinted by sinistral movements during Miocene counterclockwise rotation and northeastward movement of the North Pannonian block [Nemcˇok and Nemcˇok. (2) numerical dynamic analysis [Spang.. Winkler and Slaczka. 1994]. The basic requirement. 1993]. The Inner Western Carpathians are the eastward continuation of the Eastern Alps (Figure 2a) and are formed by basement complexes and their Mesozoic cover both deformed by Cretaceous nappe tectonics. (3) direct inversion method [Angelier and Goguel. program INVERS [Sperner et al. which frequently display oblique slip... so that the P-B-T axes method and the numerical dynamic analysis are suitable techniques. program NDA [Sperner and Ratschbacher. For a newly formed fault the compression and extension axes lie in the plane which is defined by the fault plane normal and the striae.. which changes its trend from east along the Eastern Alps to NE along the western West Carpathians and thus guided material flow from the Eastern Alps toward the NE (Figures 1 and 2a). Brittle structures at the Alpine-Carpathian junction highlight these sinistral movements [e. Decker. the Inner Carpathian Paleogene basin. Separation of data is guided by field evidence (polyphase slip along fault planes) and supplemented by graphical analysis (incompatibility of data as seen from stereoplots) and mathematical analysis (large angle between measured striae and theoretical orientation of maximum shear stress on the fault plane). 1996. [1993] for the preOligocene evolution) and/or thinned continental crust [e. 1994]. Tari et al. 1989]. 3. outcropping in the Hromosˇ-Sˇambron ridge. 1986]. [12] From the large-scale structural pattern of Neogene deformation two domains are apparent (Figure 1): The Outer Carpathians are dominated by thrusts which are related to subduction. 1996]. 1993]. 1979]. It is assumed that sedimentation ended in early Oligocene. [8] Methods (1) and (2) were used for newly formed. [10] The Pieniny Klippen belt. Its deformation already started during Late Cretaceous [Nemcˇok and Nemcˇok. Geologic-Tectonic Structure of the Western Carpathians [9] The Western Carpathians extend from the eastern end of the Alps toward the northeast and are divided by the 1-5 Pieniny Klippen belt into Inner and Outer Western Carpathians (Figure 1). but micropaleontological data point to early Miocene sediments in some parts of the Inner Carpathian Paleogene basin [Westfalewicz-Mogilska. and confidence level for the slip sense determination. flysch sediments with slump bodies and exotic blocks were deposited (Pucov unit. 1993]. program BRUTE-N [Hardcastle and Hills. 1991. (4) grid search method [Hardcastle. During late Oligocene to middle Miocene subduction (Figure 2).. The direct inversion method is useless for conjugate sets observed in only two orientations because the calculation (a least squares minimization) needs four independent fault plane orientations for an unambiguous result. is not fulfilled. 1996). Contemporaneously with the shaly facies. 1994]. mainly conjugate faults. 1993]. In this case of triaxial deformation the direct inversion and the grid search methods are most useful.g. [7] The basic requirement for fault slip analysis are data sets which originate from a homogeneous stress field. Near the High Tatra Mountains sedimentation in this basin started in middle Eocene with a basal transgressive facies consisting of breccia. but mainly took place from Eocene to Neogene times [Ratschbacher et al. and methods (3) and (4) for reactivated faults.. Additional stress information came from tension gashes (fibers parallel to the extension direction) and stylolites (axis of teeth parallel to the compression direction). each the result of one homogeneous stress field. 1983] was caused by dextral transpression resulting in horizontal shortening across and vertical lengthening along this shear zone [Ratschbacher et al. a large-scale shear zone. The Outer Carpathians consist of early Cretaceous to early Miocene flysch series deposited on oceanic (e. Figure 4) [Nemcˇok et al. Thus data sets from multiply deformed rocks were separated into subsets. Fodor.: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS methods enable the determination of the orientation of the stress axes (principal compression (s1) and extension directions (s3) with s1  s2  s3) and the stress ratio R.g. The following field data are necessary for this kind of analysis: dip azimuth and inclination of the fault plane. . [11] Between the plate boundary and the middle Miocene volcanic arc (north and east of Budapest. program TURNER [Sperner et al. 1972].g.. separates this accretionary complex from the Inner Western Carpathians and thus represents the (former) plate boundary.

g. [1981].. [13] Convergence in the Western Carpathians ended in middle Miocene when buoyant continental crust of the European foreland entered the subduction zone. Roth [1960].1. The geological map is compiled after Burtan et al. 1989]. Figure 5) establish the southern margin of the Kozı´ kamenˇ ridge as a south . Figure 4). the North Pannonian block) can be studied. Orientation of principal stress axes is shown. pre-Paleogene inliers within the Inner Carpathian Paleogene basin (Kozı´ kamenˇ ridge.. Deformation of the High Tatra Mountains and of other fault-bounded. Marko et al. 1993]. Ruzˇbachy Mesozoic. Kova´cˇ et al. 1991. N-S extension dominated the Levoca Mountains and the area of the Kozı´ kamenˇ ridge (Figure 4).e.. Here we present structural data collected in these regions (Table 1) and give regional kinematic interpretations.g.e..1-6 SPERNER ET AL.. Post-early Oligocene bedding-parallel extension (oblate deformation). data from Mesozoic rocks are shown as well. Mesoscale faults (b48za. 1997].: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS Figure 4a.. if they could be correlated with the Eocene and post-Eocene deformation events described below. 1961]. Back arc extension directions in the upper plate changed accordingly [Bergerat. Fusa´n [1961]. Deformation Analysis and Kinematic Interpretation [14] Near the northeastern end of the North Pannonian block the High Tatra Mountains form a conspicuous geological and morphological feature (Figures 1 and 4). 4. Synsedimentary folds are associated with the normal faults (b34 in Late Eocene to Early Oligocene rocks.. For location see Figure 1. 1989]. In the northernmost part of the Western Carpathians a complex pattern of structures resulted from the collision of the North Pannonian block with the European foreland. and own observations. Deformation of this region is of particular interest because it is located near the former plate boundary where the influence of subduction retreat on the margin of the overriding plate (i. 4. Matejka [1960. Plasˇienka et al. Nemcˇok. oblate deformation). The collision of the North Pannonian block with the European platform along the Western Carpathians only slightly imbricated the thinned passive continental margins (‘‘soft’’ collision) resulting in low topographic relief compared with the Alps and a ‘‘normal’’ Moho depth of 30– 35 km [e. Tomek et al. 1979]. [1978]. Sedimentary and structural data record a fanning of thrusting directions and a younging of the age of the last thrust displacements around the Carpathian arc (Figure 1 inset) [Jirˇ´ıcˇek.. 1994. The High Tatra Mountains comprise basement rocks and Mesozoic sediments both deformed by Cretaceous nappe tectonics [e. Branisko massif. Late Eocene to Early Oligocene Bedding-Parallel Extension [15] Tension gashes and normal faults of various orientations (Figure 4b) indicate a regional deformation event with bedding-parallel. Figure 4) as well as the structures in the Inner Carpathian Paleogene basin itself are key structures for the understanding of the changing plate tectonic boundary conditions in the Western Carpathians. They are located in the center of the Inner Carpathian Paleogene basin (Figure 4) which is filled with up to 4350 m of mid-Eocene to early Oligocene sediments. Mahel’ [1961]. axially symmetric extension (i. 1995. Golonka et al. Although we concentrated on Eocene rocks (for better time constraint).

1-7 .SPERNER ET AL. lower hemisphere. Orientation of microstructural data and of principal stress axes as revealed from fault slip analysis. Projection is equal area.: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS Figure 4b.

1 12 grid search flattening Triassic 15 (28) 350 02 252 75 081 15 0.3 6 direct inversion extension Neocomian 24 321 13 tension gashes extension Neocomian 25 336 32 tension fibers extension Dogger 15 (20) 185 53 001 36 092 02 0. 326 19 tension gashes extension (older) 10 257 24 tension gashes strike-slip Dogger 52 (66) 159 31 305 54 059 17 0.5 16 NDA strike-slip Middle Eocene 12 (12) 354 15 167 75 264 02 0.Apt?) 20 (23) 301 61 036 03 127 30 0.1 8 grid search flattening tension gashes flattening Eocene 24 HGCc Eocene 32 (41) 280 77 176 03 085 13 0.6 14 NDA strike-slip .2 m) L.7 19 NDA strike-slip early Triassic 14 301 08 tension gashes strike-slip early Triassic 16 (32) 075 53 260 37 169 03 0. Max) 92 081 02 tension gashes flattening Middle Eocene (2.4 6 direct inversion strike-slip middle Triassic 22 (29) 197 28 033 61 291 07 0.3 11 grid search strike-slip Triassic (Anis ?) 17 (26) 188 21 049 64 284 16 0.Oligocene early Triassic 18 (26) 000 70 250 07 157 19 0.2 9 direct inversion extension (younger) 27 -ndash.5 7 NDA strike-slip Middle Eocene (1.7 11 grid search flattening early Triassic 8 (12) 288 82 092 08 182 02 0.1 10 direct inversion flattening tension gashes flattening Eocene 59 HGCc Mesozoic 12 (15) 246 68 031 16 125 12 0.6 8 NDA flattening c tension gashes flattening Eocene 20 HGC Eocene 13 (16) 166 70 070 02 339 20 0.5 16 NDA strike-slip Middle Eocene 74 066 01 tension gashes strike-slip Triassic 10 (28) 000 85 174 05 264 01 0.0 5 direct inversion flattening .Neocomian 27 (50) 023 14 143 63 287 22 0.6 10 NDA strike-slip Contact plane 6 (6) 028 05 288 64 121 26 0.Early Oligocene 65 096 07 tension gashes flattening early Triassic 8 (9) 083 70 300 16 207 11 0.1 6 direct inversion flattening Neocomian 14 223 20 tension gashes Cretaceous 20 (30) 150 51 261 16 003 34 0.3 14 NDA strike-slip early Triassic 11 (16) 045 17 236 73 136 03 0.5 7 NDA flattening .1 8 direct inversion flattening Triassic 28 (73) 197 25 033 64 290 06 0.Eocene 17 (24) 277 70 164 08 071 18 0.1-8 SPERNER ET AL.6 10 NDA strike-slip Paleogene 27 096 07 tension gashes strike-slip Middle Eocene 18 (19) 023 08 180 82 292 03 0.5 8 NDA extension Eocene 12 (14) 110 59 233 18 331 24 0. Max) 56 339 03 tension gashes flattening Middle Eocene (2. Results of Kinematic Analysisa Outcrop Number b01 b02 b04 b05 b14 b15 b17 b20 b22 b30 b34 b35 b36 b40 b43 b48 b50 b54 b55 b58 b59 b65 b67 b72 b74 b75 b76 b77 b81 b87 b89 b146 b147 b152 b155 b156 b157 b158 b162 Rock Age n (N ) s1 s2 s3 R F Methodb Event Neocomian 23 (40) 259 68 149 08 056 21 0.7 14 grid search flattening . Max) 325 06 tension gashes flattening Middle Eocene 29 (39) 036 21 199 69 304 06 0.1 8 grid search strike-slip Triassic 8 (11) 162 01 261 83 072 07 0.Late Eocene 8 (11) 208 72 115 01 025 18 0.Early Oligocene large normal faults: larger displacement on north dipping faults (2 – 4 m) than on south dipping (0.5 13 NDA strike-slip Neocomian 32 (58) 247 81 046 08 137 03 0.6 9 NDA flattening early Triassic 5 157 11 tension gashes flattening early Triassic 5 128 38 tension fibers flattening Jurassic 14 (14) 028 01 123 76 298 14 0.5 6 NDA strike-slip Paleogene 6 (7) 210 10 105 56 306 32 0.5 9 direct inversion strike-slip Cretaceous (Alb .6 10 NDA strike-slip Neocomian 11 006 00 stylolites strike-slip Neocomian 38 098 01 tension gashes strike-slip Malm .4 14 NDA strike-slip Middle Eocene 24 231 28 tension gashes strike-slip Late Eocene 25 (34) 043 85 178 04 269 04 0.2 12 grid search strike-slip Middle Eocene 36 (46) 142 69 250 07 343 20 0.6 12 direct inversion extension Dogger 22 (55) 185 06 015 84 275 01 0. Max) 249 03 tension gashes flattening Triassic 43 (73) 194 81 337 07 067 06 0.5 15 NDA extension Middle Eocene 23 (31) 118 81 310 09 219 02 0.1 12 grid search flattening Middle .4 12 NDA flattening Neocomian 21 (36) 198 57 298 06 032 32 0.E.5 9 NDA strike-slip Middle Eocene (1.2 15 grid search strike-slip Neocomian 6 (11) 167 79 050 05 319 10 0.5 15 NDA flattening Late Eocene 6 (6) 291 72 084 16 176 08 0.1 14 grid search flattening Cretaceous 27 338 32 tension gashes flattening Paleogene 13 (14) 305 70 192 08 099 18 0.6 8 NDA flattening early Triassic 13 (20) 025 26 205 64 295 00 0.2 9 direct inversion strike-slip Dogger 23 (36) 092 03 350 74 182 16 0.7 13 NDA strike-slip Triassic (Anis ?) 61 275 26 tension gashes strike-slip Triassic (Anis ?) 8 194 14 stylolites strike-slip Paleogene 28 (31) 011 18 195 72 102 01 0.7 12 NDA strike-slip early Triassic 12 (20) 035 21 181 65 300 13 0.: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS Table 1.

5 0.4 0. 4.1 0. Middle Eocene (2.1 0. Figure 5).2.1 0.) Triassic Triassic Eocene Middle Eocene (1. Middle Eocene Middle Eocene Middle Eocene Middle Eocene (1.5 0.6 0.) Max.) Eocene (2. Max.6 - 10 - 28 (33) 117 13 (13) 18 49 166 78 338 87 - 332 12 120 02 - 0.0 0.) Max.3 0.1 0. Max.1 - 5 - 70 58 28 (36) 76 160 09 - 286 75 - 0. numerical dynamic analysis [after Spang. b59. Stress Field and Local Structures [17] A consistent regional stress field with NNE-SSW compression and WNW-ESE extension is reflected by strikeslip faults (Figure 6). [16] The bedding-parallel extension is interpreted to be related to the subsidence of the Inner Carpathian Paleogene basin accompanied by local half graben formation (Kozı´ kamenˇ ridge) near by and parallel to the southern basin margin. microstructures in this region reveal the same N-S extension as along the south dipping normal faults at the southern margin of the Kozı´ kamenˇ ridge (b50.7 0.) Max. b Methods are NDA. 1989]. Anisian Anisian late Triassic Middle Eocene Middle Eocene Middle Eocene (1.6 0. number of data used for analysis. total number of data in outcrop. grid search [after Hardcastle.5 0. direct inversion [after Angelier and Goguel. Middle Eocene Middle Eocene (1. The Branisko massif (Figure 6) was .1-9 SPERNER ET AL.8 0.2. Middle Eocene (2. 1979].) Max. N. horizontal great circle (arrangement of tension gash poles in stereoplot).) Max. South of this normal fault mid-Eocene to early Oligocene sediments transgressively overlie Mesozoic rocks.) Max.0 0. R = (s2 s3)/(s1 s3). kinematic axes.) n (N ) s1 s2 s3 R F Methodb Event 19 (30) 20 (28) 85 146 16 154 85 - 022 63 326 05 - 0.1 - 12 9 - 6 (22) 23 (71) 26 (33) 11 (11) 63 16 336 339 088 217 - 128 237 317 360 - 0.: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS Table 1. Middle Eocene (2. Middle Eocene (2. fluctuation (average misfit angle). Middle Eocene Middle Eocene Eocene Eocene Eocene (1.) Max. s1  s2  s3. Oligocene (?) to Mid-Miocene NNE-SSW Compression and ESE-WNW Extension 4. 1972].4 0. dipping normal fault (Permian melaphyre abuts midEocene flysch).2 - 8 9 - 27 (40) 9 (40) 8 (8) 123 242 007 186 147 326 352 005 321 143 182 328 209 156 186 007 066 09 261 69 026 10 248 04 211 50 151 76 146 31 120 43 246 11 052 17 148 70 303 00 001 03 085 84 240 02 243 21 056 01 351 15 061 06 246 03 090 50 227 04 125 09 093 05 124 06 052 11 298 07 016 10 111 02 299 05 018 09 068 12 076 15 358 13 063 03 079 07 210 02 045 13 223 03 150 11 336 01 099 20 296 03 286 23 033 26 339 18 326 11 078 12 070 33 261 05 226 13 248 19 221 11 065 09 344 38 316 18 238 00 065 04 033 05 037 18 271 01 267 09 276 06 150 02 0. Middle Eocene (2.1 0.2 0. F. c HGC. Middle Eocene Jurassic Jurassic Jurassic Jurassic Jurassic Eocene Middle Eocene Neocomian Neocomian Triassic Triassic Neocomian Neocomian Middle Eocene Middle Eocene Max.1.) Max. Middle Eocene (2.5 0. (continued) Outcrop Number b163 b167 b168 b170 b171 b177 b178 b179 b180 b181 b182 b185 b186 b187 b188 b189 b190 b191 b197 b200 b201 b204 b205 k14 k15 k16 k17 Rock Age early Triassic Middle Eocene Middle Eocene (1. Middle Eocene Middle Eocene (1.) Max) Max. ‘‘stress ratio’’.6 11 4 15 5 10 12 13 9 9 12 15 1 18 15 23 NDA grid search tension gashes tension gashes NDA NDA direct inversion NDA tension gashes tension gashes tension gashes direct inversion tension gashes tension gashes tension gashes tension gashes NDA tension gashes tension gashes direct inversion tension gashes NDA tension gashes tension gashes tension gashes NDA direct inversion NDA tension gashes tension gashes direct inversion tension gashes tension gashes grid search direct inversion tension gashes grid search grid search tension gashes grid search NDA grid search tension gashes direct inversion tension gashes NDA tension gashes NDA NDA strike-slip flattening flattening flattening strike-slip strike-slip flattening strike-slip strike-slip flattening flattening flattening flattening flattening flattening flattening strike-slip flattening flattening flattening flattening flattening flattening flattening flattening extension strike-slip extension flattening flattening flattening flattening flattening strike-slip strike-slip strike-slip flattening flattening flattening extension strike-slip strike-slip strike-slip strike-slip strike-slip strike-slip strike-slip strike-slip extension 15 (27) 57 9 30 26 32 25 46 14 17 16 14 12 20 28 36 19 12 (27) (34) (41) (33) (15) (40) (25) (16) (28) (33) (33) 06 16 85 12 81 06 79 72 20 13 53 45 50 65 20 85 87 01 87 83 35 03 75 a Abbreviations are as follows: n.) Max.6 - 14 12 6 9 - 25 (38) 74 104 83 - 208 02 - 0.

Figure 6) show normal displacement indicating uplift of the High Tatra Mountains along nearly vertical faults at their northwestern margin.. 1972]. (4) K/ Ar ages of andesite dykes associated with extension along the north trending normal faults northeast of the High Tatra Mountains are Sarmatian (12... i. 1968]. Roca et al.10 SPERNER ET AL. kilometer-scale faults which have simultaneously been active during this event. Figure 7) [Nemcˇok and Lexa. uplifted and exhumed along two conjugate.e. i. However.e.. reflecting the youngest NNE-SSW compression in this region.1 . during the middle Mio- . 1977] and 10– 22 Ma [Burchart. Deformation structures and microstructural data in the vicinity of the Kozı´ kamenˇ ridge characterized by N-S extension. might have started in late Oligocene or later.6 ± 2 Ma) [Birkenmajer et al. 1990]. Timing of Deformation [19] On a regional scale several time constraints are available for this strike-slip deformation event: (1) The north trending normal faults in the Turiec basin are correlated with basin subsidence starting in upper Badenian time (b146. Thus the uplift of the High Tatra Mountains. Paleocurrents measured in Eocene and Oligocene rocks around the High Tatra Mountains indicate that there was no positive morphological feature existing at the place of the today’s High Tatra Mountains [Marschalko. Geological map after Fusa´n [1961].2.: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS Figure 5. 1985. North trending normal faults northeast of the High Tatra Mountains (k16. main uplift movements might have occurred relatively late. NE trending faults at the western end of the High Tatra Mountains (b205. Figure 7). [18] The Mesozoic and Paleogene sediments of the Turiec basin (Figure 1) SW of the High Tatra Mountains deformed under the same regime as the High Tatra Mountains region. b20.2. [20] The lower time limit for this event is poorly defined. which we related to this strike-slip deformation event. has an age of about 13 Ma [Oszczypko and Tomas´. (5) The youngest thrusting in the Outer Carpathians. For location and legend see Figure 4. b152. strike-slip deformation with NNESSW compression and WNW-ESE extension (b147. (2) The youngest rocks involved in this deformation are early Oligocene. (3) Apatite fission track cooling ages from basement rocks of the High Tatra Mountains are 10– 15 Ma [Kra´l. Figure 6) reveal local E-W extension. 1995]. Fibers (+) in tension gashes (o) define the extension direction during gash formation. 4. 1987].

with our own interpretation of the structure of the High Tatra Mountains and the Pieniny Klippen belt). indicate a tilt of the High Tatra Mountains block around an east trending. b190 in Figure 4b. Uplift of and Shortening Across the High Tatra Mountains [21] Northward dipping beds at the northern margin of the High Tatra Mountains and fault boundaries at the other three sides. see section 4. Late Oligocene (?) to middle Miocene strike-slip dominated deformation characterized by NNE-SSW compression and ESE-WNW extension. [23] At the northern margin of the High Tatra Mountains bedding dips 40 toward the north (b185. Figure 10. Bao`ska IG-1: Ba-1. Thus this model applies only to parts of the deformation history. The Mesozoic and Paleogene sedimentary cover of the basement sums up to a thickness of 5 km. Birkenmajer [1986]. the High Tatra Mountains block. while the surrounding Paleogene rocks lie at an elevation of 800 m.4. so that a differential exhumation of at least 7 km can be assumed. downdip displacements along the north trending normal faults were small compared with the uplift of the High Tatra Mountains (see next section). The orientation of the Subtatric fault was nearly perpendicular to the regional NNE-SSW compression axis leading to local compressive stress concentrations and the uplift of the High Tatra Mountains.2. At the same time local (N)E-(S)W extension occurred northeast of the High Tatra Mountains (b30. 1979]. Figures 9 and 10) [Bac-Moszaszwili et al.SPERNER ET AL. where uplifted basement rocks of the High Tatra Mountains today abut Paleogene sediments. subhorizontal axis. Only in the north does the primary cover overlie the basement rocks (Figure 6a).. otherwise basins would have developed parallel to them. A crustal block. subvertical faults remained fixed while the SE-block moved relatively toward the NE. This asymmetric structure is highlighted in the profile of Figure 9 (after Fusa´n [1961].: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS 1 . In seismic data [Dvorakova et al. enclosed between two parallel. Roca et al. [1995]. 4. borehole data after Birkenmajer [1986]). The High Tatra Mountains are bordered by faults on three sides. Most of the N-S shortening across the High Tatra Mountains was [22] The High Tatra Mountains are characterized by basement rocks which are uplifted to an elevation of 2500 m. For the following calculations the basal sequence of the Inner Carpathian Paleogene was taken as a reference horizon. The dip angle of the Subtatric fault is unknown. Structure of the High Tatra Mountains 4. However. transferred toward the NE along the sinistral Ruzˇbachy fault zone (Figure 6a. This resulted in subsidence at one end of the High Tatra Mountains block (normal faults NE of the High Tatra Mountains) and backthrusting at the opposite end (Subtatric fault).. k16. For location see Figure 1. We explain these different stress regimes by a combined transpression-transtension model (Figure 8).3. k15. Figure 6). Kilometer-scale sinistral strike-slip faults southwest and northeast of the High Tatra Mountains which are connected by an east trending backthrust along the southern margin of the High Tatra Mountains (Subtatric fault) point to an evolution of the High Tatra Mountains as a pop-up in a restraining bend setting (Figure 6a).5 km for the Pieniny Klippen belt (Maruszyna IG-1: Ma-1. most probably due to its steep .5). Borehole data reveal a minimum depth of 5 km and a maximum width of 2.2. surface data are not available because the fault is covered by thick debris. cene ‘‘soft’’ collision of the North Pannonian block with the European foreland.11 Figure 6a. Orientation of principal stress axes is shown.2. Better constraints on the minimum rock uplift of and the shortening across the High Tatra Mountains are given by the geometry and the kinematics of tectonic structures. 1991] no fault plane is visible.

12 SPERNER ET AL. lower hemisphere.1 . Projection is equal area. Orientation of microstructural data and of principal stress axes as revealed from fault slip analysis. .: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS Figure 6b.

7 km and minimum slip is 18. In any case. movement along a listric thrust fault results in an increasing backlimb dip with increasing slip and thus in a progressive rotation of the backlimb [Erslev. the ramp fault (= Subtatric fault) is parallel to the backlimb (Figure 10a). Figure 6a). Thus the transfer fault was already active for a while before the Ruzˇbachy Mesozoic started to move toward the NE. the basement rocks atop the Subtatric fault must have originated from above the thrust which decoupled the northern edge of the North Pannonian block at midcrustal depth within the basement and displaced the High Tatra Mountains toward the south (Figure 9). a listric fault model [cf. Vitrinite reflectance data from these rocks indicate a minimum uplift of 1. 1986. before it could start to move laterally (Figures 11a. for legend Figure 4b. reveals uplift of 17. Nemcˇok. In the Hromosˇ-Sˇambron ridge sediments from deeper parts of the flysch basin have been uplifted and exhumed (Pucov unit.3 km (Figure 10a).3 km below sea level can be estimated (Figure 10). The 5 km difference in lateral slip correlates with 3 km shortening in the High Tatra Mountains.5 km [Nemcˇok et al. The dip of the backlimb might be equal to or less than the dip of the thrust fault. Ruzˇbachy Transfer Zone Figure 7.5. Intersection of both projected lines. In the second model. 4. 1996]. the listric Subtatric fault and the bedding of the reference horizon.5 km and slip along the Subtatric fault of 18. Deformation structures and microtectonic data in and around the Turiec basin. A minimum amount of lateral slip along this transfer zone can be estimated from the offset of the Ruzˇbachy Mesozoic which. The Ruzˇbachy Mesozoic was first uplifted together with the High Tatra Mountains and then moved along the Ruzˇbachy fault toward the NE (Figure 11). The difference of about 5 km between the measured and the calculated offset can be explained by the fact that the Ruzˇbachy Mesozoic first had to be uplifted from a minimum depth of 3 km. 1986].2. [26] In our interpretation the Ruzˇbachy fault acted as a transfer zone between the N-S shortening across the Subtatric fault and the SW directed backthrusting and folding in the Hromosˇ-Sˇambron ridge (Figure 6a). enough . a kink model (ramp-flat geometry) [cf. The latter is in good agreement with the result from the kink model.13 uplift of the High Tatra Mountains and the amount of slip along the Subtatric fault. On the other hand. In the first model. From the geometry of the High Tatra Mountains a minimum detachment depth of about 10. two different thrust models were applied to estimate the [25] The 18 km N-S shortening across the southern margin of the High Tatra Mountains is similar to the 15– 20 km shortening across the Hromosˇ-Sˇambron ridge estimated by Marschalko [1968]. the result is about 28 km lateral offset (assuming pure strike-slip along the Ruzˇbachy fault with no transpressive or transtensive component). Erslev.6 km. [24] As the geometry of the Subtatric thrust is unknown.. dip.5 km [Francu˚ and Mu¨ller. For location see Figure 1. Drilling and seismic data indicate imbrications in the deep structure of the Hromosˇ-Sˇambron ridge [Rudinec. 11b. A dip of about 55 for the Subtatric fault was constructed by drawing a circular arc between its surface outcrop and the horizontal detachment beneath the Paleogene basin (Figure 10b). 1995]. 1983] and maturity analysis reveals an upper limit of about 2– 2.SPERNER ET AL. lateral offset can independently be estimated from the direction and amount of shortening in the High Tatra Mountains in combination with the orientation of the Ruzˇbachy fault (Figure 11e). 1989. Minimum uplift for the reference horizon (= basal sequence of Paleogene rocks) is 11. 1983]. 1961].: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS 1 . and 11c).. Present-day lateral offset is about 23 km (Figure 6a). Geological map after Mahel’ [1960. Suppe. represents a strike-slip horse. in our opinion. Sorlien et al. 1990].

lower left. also runs into Mesozoic rocks (Figure 13b).: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS Figure 8. bending of EoceneOligocene sediments). Inset. the Ruzˇbachy fault.3. Post-Mid-Miocene NW-SE Extension [27] Tension gashes and normal faults record a regional deformation event with overall NW-SE extension (Figure 12). The Plavecˇ graben transects the Pieniny Klippen belt and is filled with upper Eocene to lower Oligocene flysch sediments. Model for deformation and uplift of the High Tatra Mountains (not to scale). Simplified profile through the High Tatra Mountains and the Outer Western Carpathians.g.1 . Figure 12). Liptov basin after Fusa´n [1961]. NE trending basin). Strike-slip fault oversteps resulted in local transpression and transtension zones accompanied by uplift and subsidence.14 SPERNER ET AL. to bring Mesozoic rocks from a depth of 3 km (or more) along a steep ramp toward the surface. They cut not only through the Paleogene sediments.. As a result a deep ‘‘trough’’ developed parallel to the Ruzˇbachy fault (Figure 13a. b188. [29] Upper time limits for this event cannot be established in the study area due to the lack of sediments younger than late Oligocene. Large-scale normal faults with similar orientation (NE-SW) are also visible in borehole and seismic data from the Hromosˇ-Sˇambron ridge (for location see Figure 4a) [Rudinec. [28] Slip along the listric Ruzˇbachy fault caused a rollover structure and antithetic normal faults SE of the main fault (b189. Only Tertiary structures are shown. [1995]. Figure 12) paralleling the Pieniny Klippen belt. By correlation with data from other parts of the Western Carpathians and the Pannonian basin a Sarma- Figure 9. Outer Carpathians and Central European platform after Roca et al. after Ramsay and Huber [1987]. Inner Carpathian basin after Birkenmajer [1986]. Figure 4a. but continue into Mesozoic rocks indicating that the main detachment fault. NW trending ones (imbrications in the Hromosˇ-Sˇambron ridge) led to arcuate structures south of the intersection of Pieniny Klippen belt and Ruzˇbachy fault (e. The most prominent structure is a SE dipping normal fault reactivating the Ruzˇbachy fault and forming a half graben (b04. Interference of these structures with older. Our own interpretation is shown for the structure of the High Tatra Mountains and the Pieniny Klippen belt (PKB). 4. . Figure 12). Extension is transferred to the Plavecˇ graben along NW trending sinistral strike-slip faults (b22.1992].

In the Brezovske´ Karpaty Mountains. and the orientation of the Ruzˇbachy fault. Wrenching during the Karpatian (circa 17 Ma) initiated the opening of the Vienna basin as a pull-apart structure along NE trending sinistral strikeslip faults (Figure 1) [e. Fodor et al.SPERNER ET AL. 1995.. (a) Kink model. 1990. (b) Separation from the High Tatra Mountains by a branch of the Ruzˇbachy fault. tian to Pannonian age is probable (see discussion). 1996. . northeast of the Vienna Figure 11..1. (c). The thrust ramp is parallel to the backlimb (40 dip) and the upper kink band boundary is assumed to be located at the surface outcrop of the thrust ramp. and post-mid-Miocene (circa post-13 Ma) normal faulting. ‘‘T. (e) Estimation of lateral offset along the Ruzˇbachy fault using the amount and orientation of shortening across the High Tatra Mountains. (b) Listric thrust model. Regional Tectonics [30] The following three regional deformation events have been documented: late Paleogene extension. Possible syntectonic Miocene sediments must have been eroded. (d) Northeastward shift along the sinistral Ruzˇbachy fault while the High Tatra Mountains are still rising. (a) Uplift together with the High Tatra Mountains.g.’’ thickness of uplifted basement rocks plus Mesozoic cover.6 km. Model for the tectonic evolution of the Ruzˇbachy Mesozoic (Figure 6a) as a strike-slip horse.15 Figure 10. Minimum estimate for slip is the distance between both kink band boundaries (18. Discussion 5. 5.. 1989].: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS 1 . Fodor. Assuming a maximum dip for the Subtatric fault of 55 and linear projection of the backlimb (40) into the air gives a minimum estimate for the slip along the Subtatric fault of 18. Nemcˇok et al. Thrust models for the High Tatra Mountains.3 km). late Oligocene (?) to middle Miocene wrench faulting. Decker. 1985. Royden. These results are in agreement with data from other regions of the Western Carpathians.

.: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS Figure 12. Inset shows how normal faulting along the Ruzˇbachy fault was transferred along sinistral strike-slip faults toward the Plavecˇ graben. 1992]. Projection is equal area. lower hemisphere. 1991]. middle Miocene NNE-SSW compression caused counterclockwise block rotations between ENE trending sinistral strike-slip faults and a transpressional push-up of Mesozoic rocks [Marko et al. In the High Tatra . For location see Figure 1. This resulted in the formation of the Danube basin and the Basin-and-Range type extensional structures at the Alpine-Carpathian junction area [Tari et al. Farther to the south.. where the material did spread toward north and east... Neogene sinistral strike-slip faulting was coupled with the formation of pull-apart basins [Bergerat. (b) Orientation of microstructural data and of principal stress axes as revealed from fault slip analysis. Turiec basin. transtensional deformation dominated.1 . 1991]. 1989. For legend see Figure 4b. Figure 7) and discrete sinistral strike-slip fault zones define a broad deformation zone which transferred displacement toward the NE (Figures 1 and 2a).16 SPERNER ET AL. in the Pannonian basin. Orientation of principal stress axes is shown. Csontos et al. Near the AlpineCarpathian foreland edge. basin. [31] Sinistral movements along NE trending strike-slip faults are the dominant deformation features in the Western Carpathians during Karpatian to Badenian time (circa 17 – 13 Ma) and they are connected with an oceanic embayment in the southern margin of the European continent which enabled the northeastward movement of the material extruding from the Eastern Alps (Figure 2a). Between the Eastern Alps and the northeastern Western Carpathians en echelon basins with north trending axes (e.g. (a) Post-mid-Miocene NW-SE extension.

1999. 1996. [1994] . 1990]. (a) Present-day depth of Paleogene base below sea level [map after Mahel’ et al. An only narrow negative Bouguer anomaly along the collision zone is interpreted by Lillie and Bielik [1992] as an indication that convergence stopped shortly after ocean basin closure.2.. however. Two-dimensional gravity modeling by Lillie et al. Back arc extension seems to be respon- sible also for the young NW-SE extensional deformation in the Western Carpathians. NW-SE to W-E extension also occurred in the Vienna basin during the middle to late Miocene [Decker.: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS 1 .SPERNER ET AL. Geophysical Data and Regional Tectonics [33] Density and geothermal modeling of Bielik et al. Fodor et al. Mountains area. 5.. transpressional deformation dominated. (b) Profile shows local subsidence of the Inner Carpathian Paleogene basin along listric normal faults. 1989].. due to collision of the NE moving North Pannonian block with the European continental margin (Figures 1 and 2a). 1989]. Nemcˇok et al. Thus no significant crustal thickening occurred during collision between the North Pannonian block and the European foreland.17 Figure 13. In the Pannonian basin strike-slip deformation was followed by EW back arc extension which resulted from ongoing eastward subduction retreat beneath the Eastern Carpathians [Bergerat. 1984] and location of the oceanic crustal fragment (covered by Outer Carpathian flysch) as postulated by Bojdys and Lemberger [1986]. or it compensated for a previously thinned crust so that ‘‘normal’’ crustal thickness resulted from collision. [32] Regional NW-SE extension corresponding to the youngest event in the High Tatra Mountains area (Figure 12) is documented for the central Western Carpathians during the Sarmatian and Pannonian [Nemcˇok and Lexa. The uplift of the High Tatra Mountains took place at the restraining bend of one of the sinistral NE trending strikeslip faults (Figure 6a). [1991] confirm the seismologically determined Moho depth of 32– 36 km under the Outer Carpathians flysch belt and just south of the Pieniny Klippen belt.

typical for retreating subduction zones. i. Indications that the character of the subduction zone accordingly changed to a retreating one come the following features [cf.1 . Bojdys and Lemberger [1986] conclude the existence of an oceanic crustal fragment preserved under the eastern part of the Outer Western Carpathian flysch belt (Figure 13a)... the Carpathian subduction zone acted as a system being independent from the Adriatic-European N-S convergence. This ‘‘soft’’ collision is responsible for the absence of large-scale Neogene thrusting in the Inner Western Carpathians.. (5) basement rocks which show only little Miocene thermal overprint. 5. retreat of the subduction zone beneath the Carpathians (Figure 2) [Royden. A similar configuration was numerically modeled by Meijer and Wortel [1996]. 5.4. 1991b. The present-day horizontal Moho beneath the Pieniny Klippen belt (seismic profile 2T [Tomek et al. i. In the Western Carpathians the style of subduction changed with time: advancing subduction acted until early Oligocene and was replaced by retreating subduction active from latest Oligocene to middle Miocene times. [36] Restoration of the late Oligocene situation (before subduction retreat started) places the Western Carpathians within and in the eastern continuation of the Eastern Alps.. and advancing subduction zones with the rate of subduction being less than the rate of overall plate convergence (high-stress subduction zone) [Royden and Burchfiel. (2) no deep crustal rocks were involved into thrusting in the Outer Carpathians. [39] As a result of collision and slab break-off in the Western Carpathians. 1995]. slab break-off easily migrates along strike (see modeling of Yoshioka and Wortel [1995] and Wortel and Spakman [1992]). can be explained by a zipper-like process starting at the westernmost end of the Carpathian arc (Figure 2b). (4) low topography and little erosion.e. Once initiated. (4) the evolution of various basins at the Alpine-Carpathian junction (Vienna . (4) The Western Carpathian subduction zone was the eastern continuation of the Alpine one which was of advancing character. [34] From three-dimensional gravity modeling in the Polish Carpathians. Accordingly. 1992] characterized both types of subduction and the resulting different types of thrust belts. in contrast to 175 km in the Eastern Alps. 1993]. changed to an arc-parallel orientation.. [38] From latest Oligocene to middle Miocene times. Tomek and Hall [1993] postulated slab break-off also for the western part of the Western Carpathians (near the Vienna basin). This would point to a protruding edge in the European continental margin just north of the High Tatra Mountains which could have been responsible for stress concentrations and subsequent initiation of uplift of the High Tatra Mountains. Indications that during that time subduction beneath the Western Carpathians was an advancing one come from the following facts and interpretations: (1) The Pieniny Klippen belt was uplifted above sea level during the middle and upper Eocene [Marschalko.3. [37] During Eocene. but for the early Badenian (16 Ma). During that time and earlier N-S convergence between the Adriatic microplate and the European continent also affected the Western Carpathians [e. 1989]) indicates slab break-off after collision. radial extension in the upper plate. 1991a. 1989]. After collision of the North Pannonian block with the European continent during late Badenian (13 Ma). 1993a. and (6) fine-grained deepwater deposits in the foredeep basin. which is coupled with the arc-parallel migration of continental collision. amount. subduction was restricted to the Eastern Carpathians from late mid-Miocene times (13 Ma) on.. Tectonic Models for the Western Carpathians [40] Tectonic models for the Tertiary evolution of the Western Carpathians have to consider the following characteristics: (1) the Eocene geometry of the European foreland with its oceanic embayment in the region of the present-day Western Carpathians and the ‘‘filling’’ of this embayment during the Oligocene to Miocene subduction. Plate Tectonic Processes [35] Generally. This arc-parallel migration of slab break-off. 1993a]: (1) no or only minor crustal thickening. (3) lateral extrusion from the Eastern Alps. continental collision started in the Alps and thus subduction was restricted to the Carpathian region where an oceanic embayment in the southern margin of the European continent enabled northeastward movement of the North Pannonian block (Figure 2). In one of their models subduction retreat was stopped by slab break-off at one lateral end of the arc. convergence ended due to continental crust entering the subduction zone and due to the absence of a force pushing the North Pannonian block further toward the northeast. which was enabled by back arc extension in the Inner Carpathian region. 1993b] in combination with ‘‘hard’’ continental collision in the Eastern Alps enabled the (north)eastward displacement of lithosphere (Figure 2a) [Ratschbacher et al. two types of subduction zones can be distinguished: retreating subduction zones with the rate of subduction being greater than the rate of overall plate convergence (low-stress subduction zone). who took the Aegean region as an example.: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS along N-S profiles through the Western Carpathians (20E. (2) the direction. 1968] (fission track data from Kra´l [1983]). This is similar to what we envision for the Carpathians (Figure 14). (3) Lack of back arc extension and of lateral extrusion in the Eastern Alps during this time.18 SPERNER ET AL. (2) Backthrusting south of the arc led to the formation of a retroarc flexural basin (Hungarian Paleogene basin) [Tari et al. From this time on. 1993]. Royden [1993a] and Doglioni [1991. Tari et al. through the High Tatra Mountains) and the Eastern Alps (13E) indicates a crustal shortening of only 50 km in the Western Carpathians. However. parallel to the (now inactive) arc. Royden. (3) the counterclockwise rotation of the Western Carpathians which reaches values as high as 90 for post-Eocene time. Ongoing subduction retreat led to E-W oriented back arc extension in the Pannonian basin while extension in the Western Carpathians shows NW-SE orientation.g.. and age of shortening in the Outer Western Carpathians during Oligocene to Miocene subduction and continental collision. more data are needed to validate the existence of this oceanic fragment.e.

This situation corresponds to the modeled intraplate stress field (unscaled) of Meijer and Wortel [1996] (done for the Aegean region assuming slab break-off beneath the framed region). Hence four different models result. Both movements together serve as first-order constraints for possible tectonic models explaining the tectonic evolution of the North Pannonian block. kilometer-scale structures). 2000].e. Another discrepancy of this model arises from the nonexistence of any internal deformation of the North Pannonian block.. 1999]. No lateral extrusion.. Basin. Subduction continued beneath the Eastern Carpathians. This Miocene northeastward translation of the North Pannonian block is accompanied by counterclockwise rotations of up to 90 since Eocene [e. Ma´rton et al.. According to Ma´rton et al. 3..g. one including lateral extrusion of the Eastern Alps and the other one neglecting it.5 Ma). compared with model (1).. No lateral extrusion. 1. the Vienna Basin and the Danube Basin.: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS 1 . Fodor et al. and (5) the deformation structures in the Inner Western Carpathians (i.. 1985. Wholeblock rotation would result in a triangular basin at the Alpine-Carpathian junction with the largest extension in the south (Figure 15a). the dextral shear sense along the NE trending strike-slip faults is in disagreement with our field observations which indicate sinistral movements along these faults (Figures 1 and 6). Nemcˇok et al. Paleomagnetic data also indicate a pre-Miocene position of the North Pannonian block a few hundred kilometers south of the recent position [Ma´rton et al. Fodor. For both cases whole-block rotation or domino-type rotation are possible deformation styles.19 Figure 14. Lateral extrusion of the Eastern Alps was accompanied by counterclockwise rotations of the extruding blocks [Ma´rton et al. show rhombic shapes with maximum subsidence in the central part of each basin (Figure 15e). Our data show that considerable strike-slip and normal faulting deformation took place during Oligocene and Miocene times. domino-type rotation.g.. Dominotype rotation would. Danube Basin). the two basins in this region. However. 1995. 2. 1990. However.. Due to this N-S displacement gradient . 1989]. resulting in extensional forces (double arrow) acting toward the still active subduction zone. Additionally. but already stopped beneath the Western Carpathians. [41] Palinspastic reconstruction of the Oligocene position of the North Pannonian block by balancing the Outer Carpathian fold and thrust belt places it in the eastward continuation of the Eastern Alps [Behrmann et al. Due to different deformation mechanisms the internal structures differ for each model so that they can be tested by comparing them with the real structures (microstructures on outcrop scale. whole-block rotation. 2000]. Mauritsch and Ma´rton. the Vienna basin at the northwestern margin of the North Pannonian block has been proven to be a pull-apart basin which developed along sinistral strike-slip faults (Figures 1 and 15e) [e. Tectonic situation during Sarmatian time (circa 13– 11. produce smaller basins at the Alpine-Carpathian junction (Figure 15b). 1995. whole-block rotation. 1999]. [2000] the source of these rotations is a faster eastward movement in the south compared to the north.. leading to domino-type rotation of the extruding blocks.SPERNER ET AL. Oligocene to middle Miocene sinistral strike-slip deformation along NE trending faults followed by post-mid-Miocene NW-SE extension). [42] Two classes of models may be distinguished. Lateral extrusion. Royden.

: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS Figure 15. Lateral extrusion. (a) Whole-block rotation without internal deformation. Like in model (1) the lack of internal deformation of the North Pannonian block contradicts field observations presented in this paper as well as in former publications [e. Fodor. Tectonic models for the Tertiary evolution of the Western Carpathians. (b) Domino-type rotations with dextral movements between the blocks. (f ) Driving forces for mid-Miocene deformation of the North Pannonian block (NPB). (c) Whole-block rotation accompanied by lateral extrusion of the Eastern Alps with faster eastward movements in the south compared to the north. the Eastern Alps were sinistrally sheared. local rotations. 4. Block shapes and deformations are shown schematically. A triangular basin develops at the Alpine-Carpathian junction. At the same time the Tisia-Dacia block (TDB) moves northward causing N-S compression and thus sinistral strike-slip deformation inside the North Pannonian block. Subduction retreat results in NE-SW extension. 1995. [1983]). This led to its disintegration along . after Royden et al.20 SPERNER ET AL. 1989].. Coevally. Hence the ‘‘hole’’ opening at the Alpine-Carpathian junction during rotation of the North Pannonian block was (partly) filled (Figures 15a and 15c). but also the North Pannonian block.. Nemcˇok et al. the Eastern Alps are also sheared sinistrally during lateral extrusion (like in (c)). (d) Local block rotations with several blocks moving with different velocities toward the NE. Sinistral shear like in model (3) affected not only the Eastern Alps.g. (e) Thickness of Miocene-Quaternary sediments in the Danube (DB) and the Vienna basin (VB) (for location see Figure 1.1 . Development of triangular basins at the Alpine-Carpathian junction which are smaller than the basin in (a).

SEMP-Line. this is not a stringent argument for the correctness of the model. Vienna Basin. the space between the northeastern end of the North Pannonian block and the European foreland is nearly completely filled (as it should be due to the present-day situation). (b) Anatolian-Aegean tectonics (present-day situation).21 Figure 16. Internal deformation of the Aegean block is mainly extensional. DB. At the same time. [43] Summing up the arguments above. But due to the fact that we do not know the exact shape of the North Pannonian block before rotation and northeastward movement. Danube Basin. (a) Alpine-Carpathian tectonics during Ottnangian-Karpatian (circa 18 Ma). counterclockwise rotations of the fault-bounded blocks accomplished the northward motion of the North Pannonian block (Figure 15d). models (1) and (3) have to be discarded because internal deformation of the . Friction along the southeastern margin of the European plate might have been responsible for the evolution of en echelon basins near the contact European plate/North Pannonian block (see inset). large-scale sinistral strike-slip faults. In contrast to models (1) – (3). Salzachtal-Ennstal-Mariazell-Puchberg Line.: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS 1 .SPERNER ET AL. VB. Internal deformation of the North Pannonian block is mainly by strike-slip faulting. Subduction retreat and lateral extrusion in the Alpine-Carpathian and the Aegean-Anatolian region.

a former part of the High Tatra Mountains. Simultaneously with the uplift of the High Tatra Mountains proper. as they are related with a large basin at the Alpine-Carpathian junction. At the southern margin of the basin. However. This friction caused internal deformation of the North Pannonian block along strike-slip faults and the opening of en echelon basins near the NW margin of the block (Figure 16a. Another effect of this N-S compression is enhanced friction between the intra-Carpathian blocks (i.: TECTONICS OF THE WESTERN CARPATHIANS North Pannonian block is missing. e.e.e. a large-scale NE trending sinistral wrench zone developed. 5. thrusting along the Mid-Hungarian fault zone) as well as along their outer margins. 1993b] results in a shift of motion from westward (Anatolian block) to southwestward (Aegean block. This basin is even larger than the basin in model (1) and its geometry with maximum extension in the south does not match the real basin geometry (Figure 15e). 1972]. This transpression caused Eocene uplift of the Pieniny Klippen belt above sea level and the formation of a basin south of the Pieniny Klippen belt (Inner Carpathian Paleogene basin).. [44] Sinistral shear inside the North Pannonian block might have been triggered by the north.g.22 SPERNER ET AL. the southeastern margin is characterized by a SW trending sinistral strike-slip zones. Convergence between the North Pannonian block and the European foreland stopped shortly . Both blocks had to move through the ‘‘bottle neck’’ between the Bohemian massif and the Moesian platform (Figure 15f ) thus hindering each other in their free motion and producing additional compressive forces. partly resulting in the reactivation of former strike-slip faults as normal faults. Turiec basin). which is bound in the south by an east trending normal fault. In the latter case. subduction retreat was not hindered by lateral margins so that back arc extension could fully develop (Figure 16b). Conclusions [47] Structural and kinematic data from the Western Carpathians record three main deformation events: (1) late Paleogene bedding-parallel extension during basin subsidence. this basin was filled with sediments from middle Eocene until early Oligocene times. along the Kozı´ kamenˇ ridge.and eastward movements of the Tisia-Dacia block. model (4) predicts smaller basins as well as sinistral movements inside the North Pannonian block and thus represents our favorite model. In the northern Aegean Sea (i. the limited space inside the Carpathian embayment forced the two intra-Carpathian blocks to move against each other causing compression during Miocene (Figure 15f ).. Oblique subduction during late Cretaceous to Eocene times led to strain partitioning with thrusting in the Outer Carpathian flysch belt and transpression along the Pieniny Klippen belt.g. Superposition of this N-S compression on the retreat-induced NE-SW extension might have resulted in sinistral shear stress inside the North Pannonian block (Figure 15f ). the Ruzˇbachy Mesozoic. along the boundary between European continental margin and North Pannonian block (Figures 15f and 16a).. subsidence occurred partly along half grabens. Subduction retreat of the Hellenic arc toward the south(west) [Royden. During middle Miocene ‘‘soft’’ collision of the North Pannonian block with the European continent took place. [49] Latest Oligocene to middle Miocene lateral extrusion was east directed in the Eastern Alps. Figure 16b) [McKenzie. (2) Oligocene (?) to mid-Miocene NNE-SSW compression with ESE-WNW extension resulting in the uplift of the High Tatra Mountains along a compressional right step in a left-lateral strike-slip fault. we propose the following scenario for the Tertiary tectonics of the Western Carpathian region. 1987]. clastic sedimentation took place along the active continental margin of the North Pannonian block and an accretionary wedge evolved (Outer Carpathian flysch belt). On the basis of all available data. A zone of extension characterizes the transition zone between the different movement directions [Jackson and McKenzie.e. but follows a certain scheme. i. Thus.. but with the wrong (dextral) shear sense. An irregular foreland margin might have been responsible for stress concentrations with the development of a compressional strike-slip overstep leading to 12 km of rock uplift in the High Tatra Mountains. and (3) late Miocene NWSE extension. In contrast.5. Sinistral movements along the block boundaries in model (2) do not solve the problem. In contrast. 6.. In contrast. was translated toward the NE forming a strike-slip horse. Comparison With the Anatolian-Aegean Region [45] Comparison of the early Miocene plate tectonic situation in the Alpine-Carpathian region (Figure 16a) with the present-day situation in the Anatolian-Aegean region (Figure 16b) reveals striking analogies and shows that the Tertiary Alpine-Carpathian evolution is not unique. [48] During Paleogene time. This wrench zone is transtensional in the western Western Carpathians resulting in north trending en echelon basins (e. Model (2) includes internal strike-slip deformation. inset).. [46] The Alpine-Carpathian and the Aegean-Anatolian region show similarities in the general plate tectonic situation and the pattern of block movements away from a zone of convergence toward a retreating subduction zone. differences arise for the internal deformation of the upper plate which was mainly along strike-slip faults in the North Pannonian block. in the western prolongation of the North Anatolian fault) a zone of strikeslip and extensional deformation limits the Aegean block toward the north [McClusky et al. In the region where later the High Tatra Mountains were uplifted. our field data clearly indicate large-scale sinistral strike-slip deformation. but due to an oceanic embayment in the European foreland east of the Alps material flowed toward the northeast in the Western Carpathians. 1993a. 1984]. Figure 16b). emphasizing subduction retreat and lateral extrusion as the driving mechanisms for the Tertiary evolution of the North Pannonian block..1 . 2000]. In the Anatolian-Aegean region continental collision of the Arabian plate with the Eurasian plate forces the Anatolian block to westward lateral extrusion along strike-slip faults (North and East Anatolian fault. the Aegean block mainly deformed through normal faulting during the last 4 Ma [Mercier et al.

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