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The Western Carpathians are separated into an Outer and Inner Carpathians (both comprising several nappe systems) by the extremely narrow and highly deformed Pieniny Klippen Belt. The main phase of deformation and thrusting took place during the Late Cretaceous in the Inner Carpathians, at the end of Cretaceous–Paleocene in the Pieniny Klippen Belt and in the Miocene in the Outer Carpathians. In this paper a large amount of palaeomagnetic results of different quality available from several nappe stacks and from overstep sequences were reviewed and interpreted in terms of tectonics. The data suggest that all three main units participated in two phases of anticlockwise rotation starting at 18.5 Ma, that is, the Outer Carpathian nappes in front of the already consolidated Alpine–Carpathian–Pannonian block became accreted to the block. Late Cretaceous nappe transport, Neogene uplift of ‘core mountains’ and possibly oroclinal bending of pre-Oligocene age can account for important differences in pre-Cenozoic palaeomagnetic declinations. Most of them exhibit less or no anticlockwise rotation suggested by the overstep sequences, implying pre-Cenozoic clockwise rotations of variable angles.

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