Middle Triassic arc-related extensional tectonics in the western Tethys generated a complex pattern of intra-and backarc basins. We studied volcano-sedimentary successions of subsided continental-margin blocks (Mts. Žumberak and Ivanščica) and of dismembered incomplete ophiolite sequences interpreted as remnants of a backarc basin (Mts. Medvednica and Kalnik) in northwestern Croatia. We dated the successions with radiolarians, conodonts, foraminifers, algae, and sponges.
The continental margin experienced a phase of accelerated subsidence in the late Anisian that was approximately coincident with the onset of intermediate and acidic volcanism; pelagic sediments with volcaniclastics accumulated atop subsided carbonate platforms. These relatively shallow basins were later infilled completely by prograding platforms in the late Ladinian-Carnian. In the backarc basin, sea-floor spreading initiated near the Anisian-Ladinian boundary and continued into the late Carnian. Pillow basalts were erupted and interlayered with radiolarian cherts and shales.
The studied area was a part of a larger Triassic arc-backarc system preserved in the southern Alps, Alpine-Carpathian Belt, Dinarides, and Hellenides. Volcano-sedimentary successions of Mts. Medvednica and Kalnik are relics of the Meliata-Maliak backarc basin. In comparison to other previously dated oceanic remnants of this system, the longest continuous sea-floor spreading is now documented in one restricted tectonic unit.