Out-of-sequence thrusts and paleogeography of the Rhenodanubian Flysch Belt (Eastern Alps) revisited

Frank Mattern*, Pu Jun Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The Oberstdorf nappe of the Western and the Laab nappe of the Eastern Rhenodanubian Flysch (ERF) were independently identified as out-of-sequence thrust units by facies studies (Mattern 1999) and zircon analyses (Trautwein et al.2001a, b, c), respectively. A new look at both areas reveals mutual similarities and new evidence for the out-of-sequence concept. Paleocurrent and heavy mineral data make it possible to reconstruct the sediment influx directions. From the Barremian to the mid-Campanian, the western and eastern basin segments were fed with south-derived garnet and north-derived zircon/ "ZTR" (i.e., zircon, tourmaline, and rutile). Because both out-of-sequence units are relatively rich in zircon/ZTR they must have occupied the northernmost basin position. In the Western Rhenodanubian Flysch segment, the Sigiswang nappe occupied the central and the Üntschen nappe the southernmost basin position. In the ERF segment the central basin is represented by the Greifenstein nappe and the southernmost basin by the Kahlenberg nappe. Both out-of-sequence units do not occur in the northernmost and tectonically lowest position in their respective nappe piles as they were thrust over the other nappes. The reconstructed basin positions of the thrust units are suggested by the observation of a gradient in heavy mineral content in the thrust units. This paleogeographic arrangement is least problematic and renders models with differently positioned thrust units, requiring debris-shedding intrabasinal ridges, as unnecessarily complicated. Instead, we suggest that gradual changes in heavy mineral composition existed in across-basin direction. Garnet may stem from the Central Gneiss Complex of the Tauern window and formerly exposed lateral equivalents, all representing the southern Mid-Penninic zone. We assign the Falknis/Tasna nappe and formerly exposed lateral equivalents to the northern Mid-Penninic zone which served as the zircon/ZTR source. Interpreting Ebbing's (Ph.D. thesis, Freie Universität Berlin, pp 1-143, 2002; Fig. 6.10) density section, we suggest that Mid-Penninic crust exists beneath the Central Gneiss Complex. During the latest Cretaceous much garnet was also N-derived. This may reflect processes related to the consumption of the North Penninic basin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-833
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Eastern Alps
  • Heavy minerals
  • Out-of-sequence thrusts
  • Paleocurrents
  • Rhenodanubian Flysch Zone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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