Thermo‐kinematic evolution of the Eastern European Alps along the TRANSALP transect

Eizenhöfer, P. R. , Glotzbach, C., Kley, J. and Ehlers, T. A. (2023) Thermo‐kinematic evolution of the Eastern European Alps along the TRANSALP transect. Tectonics, 42(4), e2022TC007380. (doi: 10.1029/2022TC007380)

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The eastern European Alps are shaped by the indentation of Adria into Europe. Recent tomography, depicting detached slab fragments, has been interpreted as evidence of continuous southward subduction of European lithosphere, contrary to an often-invoked subduction polarity reversal. Orogen-scale exhumation, driven by rock displacement along active faults, may reflect subduction polarity within the framework of doubly-vergent Coulomb wedge theory, provided the absence of rheological contrasts across the colliding plates. Low-temperature thermochronology can evaluate crustal cooling in response to changes in tectonic and erosional boundary conditions. This study investigates the consistency of observed crustal re-organization, exhumation, and mantle processes in the Eastern Alps. Thermo-kinematic forward models driven by reconstructions of crustal shortening along TRANSALP were subjected to variations in shortening rates, thermophysical parameters, and topographic evolution, supplemented by new fission-track data. The thermo-kinematic models reproduce: (i) the orogen-scale structural geometry, (ii) the distribution of thermochronometer ages, (iii) observed time-temperature paths, and (vi) the present-day surface heat flux. Results suggest that exhumation is driven by rock displacement along active faults without the need to involve mantle-driven buoyancy forces. Taken together, results identify two possible scenarios: if the Tauern Ramp is a retro-thrust and the southward shift of deformation in the Southern Alps is a response to new Coulomb-wedge conditions, then our results suggest a Mid-Miocene reversal of the subduction polarity. Alternatively, crustal deformation does not reflect mantle processes due to a high degree of inter-plate decoupling.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This study was financed by the German Science Foundation DFG within the priority program 4D-MB and contributes to the AlpArray initiative through the following DFG grants: GL724/8-1 to C.G., KL 495/28-1 to J.K., EH329/25-1 and EH329/26-1 to T.A.E and EI1176/1-1 to P.R.E.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Eizenhoefer, Dr Paul and Ehlers, Professor Todd A.
Creator Roles:
Eizenhöfer, P. R.Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Formal analysis, Investigation, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing, Visualization, Project administration, Funding acquisition
Ehlers, T. A.Software, Resources, Writing – review and editing, Project administration, Funding acquisition
Authors: Eizenhöfer, P. R., Glotzbach, C., Kley, J., and Ehlers, T. A.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Tectonics
ISSN (Online):1944-9194
Published Online:05 April 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in Tectonics 2023
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
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