Introduction: Analysing orogeny—the Alpine approach
Published:January 01, 2008
S. Siegesmund, B. Fügenschuh, N. Froitzheim, 2008. "Introduction: Analysing orogeny—the Alpine approach", Tectonic Aspects of the Alpine-Dinaride-Carpathian System, S. Siegesmund, B. Fügenschuh, N. Froitzheim
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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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Tectonic Aspects of the Alpine-Dinaride-Carpathian System
The Alps, Carpathians and Dinarides form a complex, highly curved and strongly coupled orogenic system. Motions of the European and Adriatic plates gave birth to a number of ‘oceans’ and microplates that led to several distinct stages of collision. Although the Alps serve as a classical example of collisional orogens, it becomes clearer that substantial questions on their evolution can only be answered in the Carpathians and Dinarides. Our understanding of the geodynamic evolution of the Alpine-Dinaride-Carpathian System has substantially improved and will continue to develop; this is thanks to collaboration between eastern and western Europe, but also due to the application of new methods and the launch of research initiatives. The largely field-based contributions investigate the following subjects: pre-Alpine heritage and Alpine reactivation; Mesozoic palaeogeography and Alpine subduction and collision processes; extrusion tectonics from the Eastern Alps to the Carpathians and the Pannonian Basin; orogen-parallel and orogen-perpendicular extension; record of orogeny in foreland basins; tectonometamorphic evolution; and relations between the Alps, Apennines and Corsica.