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First interpretation of mantle structure in the Alps-Apennines-Carpathian-Pannonian region from teleseismic Vp studies

A pattern of teleseismic Vp anomalies in the greater Alpine area reflect asymmetrical mantle structure in the Alps as well as pronounced orogen-parallel variations. The foreland of the Western and Central Alps shows layered +Vp and -Vpanomalies that extend from the Variscan belts to beneath the Alpine orogenic front. The base of the lower -Vp layer lies at a depth of c. 180 km. However, below the Tauern Window and to the east, this layering is less pronounced and subhorizontal, with an undefined base. In the Eastern Alps, the +Vp anomalies define an ultrathin (≤ 50 km) lithospheric lid underlain by shallow -Vp anomalies trending E-W, parallel to the direction of eastward-lateral motion of the AlCaPa unit into the Pannonian Basin. Isolated +Vp anomalies underlie the Eastern Alps at c. 200 km depth. South of the Alps the Adriatic lithosphere is some 80-100 km thick and underlain by variably strong -Vp anomalies. No slab anomaly is detected beneath the northern Dinarides. We interpret the Vp anomaly pattern in the Western and Central Alps to indicate SSE-directed subduction and partial detachment of a thick, compositionally heterogeneous European tectosphere comprising inherited (Variscan?) Vp anomalies. +Vp anomalies beneath the Alps represent subducted lithosphere in various stages of tearing and delamination, with complete delamination east of the western Tauern Window. Shallow -Vp anomalies in this domain document asthenospheric upwelling which facilitated crust-mantle decoupling during Miocene escape of AlCaPa. The slab anomaly beneath the northern Apennines is detached from its foreland and hangs subvertically.


Marcel Paffrath (1), Mark R. Handy (2), Stefan M. Schmid (3) & Wolfgang Friederich (1)
Geowissenschaften, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany (1); Geowissenschaften, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany (2); Institut für Geophysik, ETH-Zürich, Switzerland (3)
GeoUtrecht 2020
Europe, Alps