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The European Alps, the prototype collisional orogen and playground of geologists from all over the world, have been studied by generations of Earth scientists. The density of data is probably matched by no other mountain chain. Still, the Alpine chain is far from being over-studied, since many fundamental questions have not yet found a satisfactory and generally accepted answer, e.g. the formation of the Western Alpine arc. In recent years however, tectonic research on the Alpine mountain chains has made dramatic progress due to new findings (e.g. coesite), new methods (e.g. GPS), and new—or newly considered—concepts (e.g. subduction roll-back). Our picture of the Alpine orogeny has changed completely.

Extremely important for Alpine research, the opening of borders between western and eastern parts of Europe has opened new perspectives: seen from the east, the Alps are the result of the junction of the Dinarides and the Carpathians. Parts of the Alpine evolution, e.g. Jurassic tectonics in the Northern Calcareous Alps, can only be understood in the context of processes in the Internal Dinarides and Internal Carpathians. The exchange of information and ideas between Alpine, Carpathian, Pannonian and Dinaride Earth scientists—in which Stefan Schmid played and still plays a most important role—has been fruitful for all sides.

The present volume on the Alps, Carpathians and Dinarides (Fig. 1) includes articles that are related to key aspects of the tectonic evolution of these mountain chains. These articles are examples of the Alpine approach to orogeny, which combines careful fieldwork with a broad

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