Palaeogene and Neogene
Published:January 01, 2008
Michael W. Rasser, Mathias Harzhauser, Olga Y. Anistratenko, Vitaliy V. Anistratenko, Davide Bassi, Mirko Belak, Jean-Pierre Berger, Gianluca Bianchini, Safet Čičić, Vlasta Ćosović, Nela Doláková, Katica Drobne, Sorin Filipescu, Karl Gürs, Šárka Hladilová, Hazim Hrvatović, Bogomir Jelen, Jacek Robert Kasiński, Michal Kováč, Polona Kralj, Tihomir Marjanac, Emö Márton, Paolo Mietto, Alan Moro, András Nagymarosy, James H. Nebelsick, Slavomír Nehyba, Bojan Ogorelec, Nestor Oszczypko, Davor Pavelić, Rajko Pavlovec, Jernej Pavšič, Pavla Petrová, Marcin Piwocki, Marijan Poljak, Nevio Pugliese, Rejhana Redžepović, Helena Rifelj, Reinhard Roetzel, Dragomir Skaberne, L’ubomír Sliva, Gerda Standke, Giorgio Tunis, Dionýz Vass, Michael Wagreich, Frank Wesselingh, 2008. "Palaeogene and Neogene", The Geology of Central Europe Volume 2: Mesozoic and Cenozoic, T. McCann
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Over the last 65 Ma, our world assumed its modern shape. This timespan is divided into the Palaeogene Period, lasting from 65 to 23 Ma and the Neogene, which extends up to the present day (see Gradstein & Ogg (2004) and Gregory et al. (2005) for discussion about the Quaternary).
Throughout the Cenozoic Era, Africa was moving towards Eurasia in a northward direction and with a counterclockwise rotation. Numerous microplates in the Mediterranean area were compressed, gradually fusing, and Eurasia underwent a shift from a marine archipelago to continental environments, related to the rising Alpine mountain chains (Figs 17.1 & 17.2). Around the Eocene-Oligocene boundary, Africa's movement and subduction beneath the European plate led to the final disintegration of the ancient Tethys Ocean. The Indo-Pacific Ocean came into existence in the east while various relict marine basins remained in the west. In addition to the emerging early Mediterranean Sea, another relict of the closure of the Tethys was the vast Eurasian Paratethys Sea.
The Oligocene and Miocene deposits of Central Europe are largely related to the North Sea in the north, the Mediterranean Sea in the south and the intermediate Paratethys Sea and its late Miocene to Pliocene successor Lake Pannon. At its maximum extent, the Paratethys extended from the Rhône Basin in France towards Inner Asia. Subsequently, it was partitioned into a smaller western part consisting of the Western and the Central Paratethys and the larger Eastern Paratethys. The Western Paratethys comprises the Rhône Basin and the Alpine Foreland Basin of Switzerland, Bavaria and Austria. The Central Paratethys extends from the Vienna Basin in the west to the Carpathian Foreland in the east where it abuts the area of the Eastern Paratethys. Eurasian ecosystems and landscapes were impacted by a complex pattern of changing seaways and land bridges between the Paratethys, the North Sea and the Mediterranean as well as the western Indo-Pacific (e.g. Rögl 1998; Popov et al. 2004). This geodynamically controlled biogeographic differentiation necessitates the establishment of different chronostratigraphic/geochronologic scales.
The geodynamic changes in landscapes and environments were further amplified by drastic climate changes during the Cenozoic. The warm Cretaceous climate continued into the early Palaeogene with a distinct optimum near the Palaeocene-Eocene boundary (Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum) and the Early Eocene (Early Eocene Climate Optimum). A gradual decrease in temperature during the later Eocene culminated in the formation of the first icesheets in Antarctica around the Eocene-Oligocene boundary (Zachos et al. 2001; Prothero et al. 2003). A renewed warming trend that began during the Late Oligocene continued into the Middle Miocene with a climax at the Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum. The turning point at around 14.2 Ma led to the onset of the Middle Miocene Climate Transition indicated by the cooling of surface waters and the expansion of the East Antarctic icesheet (Shevenell et al. 2004). A final trend reversal during the Early Pliocene is reflected by a gentle warming until 3.2 Ma (Zachos et al. 2001) when the onset of permanent Arctic glaciation heralded the Pleistocene ice ages (see Litt et al. 2008).
The Cenozoic history of Central Europe is chronicled in a dense pattern of Palaeogene and Neogene basins. In addition to the more stable North Sea Basin, the majority of these basins were strongly influenced by the Alpine compressive tectonics which caused a general uplift of Europe during the Cenozoic (see Froitzheim et al. 2008; Reicherter et al. 2008). The marginal position of the seas covering the area and the considerable synsedimentary geodynamic control resulted in incomplete stratigraphic sequences with frequent unconformities, erosional surfaces and depositional gaps.
This chapter deals with the Paleogene and Neogene (“Tertiary”) geological development of Central Europe and its adjacent areas. It is structured according to the main geological regions relevant for the Cenozoic: (1) The European Plate; (2) the Alps and Alpine Foredeep; (3) the Carpathians, their foredeep and the Pannonian Basins System; and (4) the Southern Alps and Dinarides. Each subchapter is arranged from west to east, and north to south.
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The Geology of Central Europe Volume 2: Mesozoic and Cenozoic
This two-volume set provides the first comprehensive account in English of the geology of Central Europe. Written by more than 200 scientists from universities and research centres spread across Europe and North America, the 21 chapters are based on the main stratigraphic periods. Individual chapters outline the evolution of the region divided into a variety of sections which include overviews of the stratigraphic framework, climate, sea-level variations, palaeogeography and magmatic activity. These are followed by more detailed descriptions of the Central European succession, covering the main basins and magmatic provinces. Each chapter is thoroughly referenced, providing a unique and valuable information source.
Volume 1 focuses on the evolution of Central Europe from the Precambrian to the Permian, a dynamic period which traces the formation of Central Europe from a series of microcontinents that separated from Gondwana through to the creation of Pangaea. Separate summary chapters on the Cadomian, Caledonian and Variscan orogenic events as well as on Palaeozoic magmatism provide an overview of the tectonic and magmatic evolution of the region. These descriptions sometimes extend beyond the borders of Central Europe to take in the Scottish and Irish Caledonides as well as the Palaeozoic successions in the Baltic region.
Volume 2 provides an overview of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic evolution of Central Europe. This period commenced with the destruction of Pangaea and ended with the formation of the Alps and Carpathians and the subsequent Ice Ages. Separate summary chapters on the Permian to Cretaceous tectonics and the Alpine evolution are also included. The final chapter provides an overview of the fossil fuels, ore and industrial minerals in the region.
The Geology of Central Europe is a key reference work suitable not only for libraries across the world, but of interest to all researchers, teachers and students of European Geology.