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Kinematic sequence stratigraphy of the European Cenozoic Rift System and Alpine Foreland Basin: correlation with Mediterranean and Atlantic plate-boundary events

  • W. Sissingh (a1)

A review of the sequence stratigraphic development of the Tertiary basins of the North and West Alpine Foreland domains shows that their structural and depositional history was episodically affected by brief tectonic phases. These were associated with intermittent deformation events induced by the collisional convergence and compressional coupling of the Apulian and Iberian microplates with the European Plate. The plate kinematics-related episodicity was essentially isochronously recorded in the basin fills of the Alpine Foreland region. These are generally correlative with changes in eustatic sea level. The ensuing correlative successions of so-called Cenozoic Rift and Foredeep (CRF) sequences and phases can be traced throughout the European Cenozoic Rift System and Alpine Foreland Basin. Their temporal correlation indicates that, apparently, the changes in the plate collision-related stress regime of the Alpine Foreland were repeatedly accompanied by coeval changes in eustatic sea level. To test and substantiate the validity of this inferred causal relationship between intraplate deposition, plate kinematics and eustacy, the tectono-sedimentary evolution of the basins of the Mediterranean plate-boundary zone has been analysed in conjunction with a review of the plate-boundary events in the North Atlantic. Within the uncertainty range of available datings, synchroneity could thus be demonstrated for the punctuated tectonostratigraphic development of basins of the western Mediterranean (comprising the Liguro-Provençal Basin, Valencia Trough, Sardinia Rift and Tyrrhenian Basin), the Apenninic-Calabrian Arc, the Betic domain (including the Alboran Basin) and the North and West Alpine Foreland regions. Similar temporal correlations of plate tectonicsrelated events near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the North Atlantic and tectonostratigraphic sequences and phases of the Alpino-Pyrenean Foreland basins are further evidence of a common causal mechanism. The driving mechanisms appear to have been the northward drift of Africa and the resulting mechanical coupling of Apulia and Iberia with the southern passive margin of Europe, as well as the stepwise opening of the North Atlantic and accompanying episodic plate re-organisations of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

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