This contribution is a synthesis of knowledge about late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic events in the primarily terrestrial domains now represented in various parts of Mediterranean Europe. Inclusion in this volume is justified by the fact that the areas discussed show the westernmost patterns of the ancient Tethys. Moreover, because a detailed evaluation of terrestrial history is generally more difficult for late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic time than is the reconstruction of history in marine domains, interest is aroused by recognition of major pre-Jurassic events, which are still not completely known. Thus this work leads to a tentative reconstruction of the still-debated geological history of the interval between the end of the Hercynian orogenic cycle and the beginning of the Alpine sedimentary cycle.
Data and interpretations vary from one region of terrestrial rocks to another. Despite this, we have tried to establish the most typical events. Although the correlation and nature of some are still in doubt, the effort of reconstructing them is significant. Validity of some of our conclusions, however, stems mainly from their widespread importance.
Each of us has been concerned with various aspects of the national geological situations considered. However, we have tried not to modify the content of our individual contributions in order to maintain each of our scientific attitudes, opinions and expressions.
Former continental domains
Former late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic continental domains of Mediterranean Europe west of the oldest Tethys include areas now in Italy, France, and Spain. We consider these areas in that order.
In Italy, Paleozoic and Mesozoic stratigraphic sequences are discontinuous and, in different places, have different characters and thickness. Thus a region-by-region description is indicated.