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Timing and mechanisms of Late Mesozoic to Early Cenozoic exhumation and uplift in Central Europe Hilmar von Eynatten, Jonas Kley, István Dunkl

Widespread exhumation and uplift affected Central Europe in Late Cretaceous to Paleogene time (e.g. Kley and Voigt, 2008, Geology, 36, 839-842). The area involved includes thrust-related basement uplifts and inverted Mesozoic basins and extends at least from the Rhenish Massif to the Bohemian Massif and from the Black Forest/Vosges to the North German Basin. Exhumation and basin inversion started at approx. 95 Ma based on stratigraphic constraints (Voigt et al. 2021, Solid Earth,, well in line with ZHe cooling data (e.g. von Eynatten et al. 2019, International Journal of Earth Sciences, 108, 2097-2111). Late Cretaceous SW-NE directed basement thrusting (e.g. Harz Mountains, Thuringian Forest, Flechtingen High) peaked around 85 to 70 Ma. Thermochronological data (AFT, AHe) from the Triassic uplands between the basement highs reveal km-scale exhumation of a wider region, at least 250-300 km across, suggesting long-wavelength domal uplift (von Eynatten et al. 2021, Solid Earth, 12, 935-958). This domal uplift is dated slightly later at 75 to 55 Ma and calls for a separate mechanism superimposed on the Late Cretaceous compressional event. Based on timing, spatial extent of the doming area and thickness of eroded strata (3-4 km), possible mechanisms are evaluated for their contribution to exhumation and uplift. While shortening and crustal thickening may explain 50% of the domal uplift at most, upwelling asthenosphere driving dynamic topography appears capable of producing uplift and erosion of the required magnitude, wavelength and rate.


Hilmar von Eynatten, Jonas Kley, István Dunkl
University of Göttingen, Geoscience Center, Germany
GeoKarlsruhe 2021