The Schlinig fault at the western border of theÖtztal nappe (Eastern Alps), previously interpreted as a west-directed thrust, actually represents a Late Cretaceous, top-SE to -ESE normal fault, as indicated by sense-of-shear criteria found within cataclasites and greenschist-facies mylonites. Normal faulting postdated and offset an earlier, Cretaceous-age, west-directed thrust at the base of theÖtztal nappe. Shape fabric and crystallographic preferred orientation in completely recrystallized quartz layers in a mylonite from the Schlinig fault record a combination of (1) top-east-southeast simple shear during Late Cretaceous normal faulting, and (2) later north-northeast-directed shortening during the Early Tertiary, also recorded by open folds on the outcrop and map scale. Offset of the basal thrust of theÖtztal nappe across the Schlinig fault indicates a normal displacement of 17 km. The fault was initiated with a dip angle of 10° to 15° (low-angle normal fault). Domino-style extension of the competent Late Triassic Hauptdolomit in the footwall was kinematically linked to normal faulting. The Schlinig fault belongs to a system of east- to southeast-dipping normal faults which accommodated severe stretching of the Alpine orogen during the Late Cretaceous. The slip direction of extensional faults often parallels the direction of earlier thrusting (top-W to top-NW), only the slip sense is reversed and the normal faults are slightly steeper than the thrusts. In the western Austroalpine nappes, extension started at about 80 Ma and was coeval with subduction of Piemont-Ligurian oceanic lithosphere and continental fragments farther west. The extensional episode led to the formation of Austroalpine Gosau basins with fluviatile to deep-marine sediments. West-directed rollback of an east-dipping Piemont-Ligurian subduction zone is proposed to have caused this stretching in the upper plate.
Tectonophysics – Elsevier
Published: Oct 30, 1997
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