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Evidence for time-variable thickness of the Phanerozoic continental lithosphere in Central Europe

The Phanerozoic lithosphere in Central Europe was formed due to the Caledonian and Variscan Orogenies. It then probably underwent modification and thinning associated with widespread and intense Permian volcanism. Since the Permian, the evolution of the Central Europe lithosphere is characterized by various phases of moderate extension and inversion tectonics caused by external forces. Sedimentation and intra-plate volcanism yield evidence for additional intra-plate processes related to variable lithsopheric thickness and deformation. Whereas its crustal structure has been extensively studied by Deep Seismic Soundings, properties of the subcontinental mantle lithosphere including its thickness are less well known. Surface waves are well suited to study the lithosphere and the sub-lithospheric structure, being mainly sensitive to the S-wave velocity structure at those depths. Here we present results of high-resolution surface-wave tomography, down to ~250 km depth, from automated broad-band inter-station Rayleigh phase velocities. The thickness of Central Europe lithosphere shows a remarkable variability. Thick lithosphere is found beneath the Paris Basin, whereas the lithosphere in the area of the North German Basin and the Bohemian Massive shows moderate thickness. Thinner lithosphere is found in the area of the Cenozoic intra-plate volcanism. Comparison to the distribution of Permian and Jurassic volcanic rocks provides evidence for a time variable thickness of the continental lithosphere in Central Europe. We relate subsidence and sedimentation without substantial extension to lithospheric cooling and thickening. In contrast, uplift and volcanism without compression indicate thermal thinning of the lithosphere. Conceptual models for the lithopsheric evolution in the area are discussed.


Amr El-Sharkawy1,2, Thomas Meier1, Sergei Lebedev3, Carlos Clemente-Gomez4, Javier Fullea4, Thor Hansteen5
1Kiel University, Germany; 2National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics, Cairo, Egypt; 3Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Dublin, Ireland; 4Institute of Geosciences (CSIC,UCM), Plazade Ciencias, 3, ES-28040 Madrid, Spain; 5GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel, Germany
GeoKarlsruhe 2021
Central Europe