Tectono-metamorphic evolution of a nappe stack: A case study of the Swiss Alps

Herwegh, Marco; Pfiffner, Othmar-Adrian (2005). Tectono-metamorphic evolution of a nappe stack: A case study of the Swiss Alps. Tectonophysics, 404(1-2), pp. 55-76. Elsevier 10.1016/j.tecto.2005.05.002

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Fold-and-thrust belts are prominent structures that occur at the front of compressional orogens. To unravel the tectonic and metamorphic evolution of such complexes, kinematic investigations, quantitative microstructural analysis and geothermometry (calcite–graphite, calcite–dolomite) were performed on carbonate mylonites from thrust faults of the Helvetic nappe stack in Central Switzerland. Paleo-isotherms of peak temperature conditions and cooling stages (fission track) of the nappe pile were reconstructed in a vertical section and linked with the microstructural and kinematic evolution. Mylonitic microstructures suggest that under metamorphic conditions close to peak temperature, strain was highly localized within thrust faults where deformation temperatures spatially continuously increased in both directions, from N to S within each nappe and from top–down in the nappe stack, covering a temperature range of 180–380 °C. Due to the higher metamorphic conditions, thrusting of the lowermost nappe, the Doldenhorn nappe, was accompanied by a much more pronounced nappe internal ductile deformation of carbonaceous rock types than was the case for the overlying Wildhorn- and Gellihorn nappes. Ongoing thrusting brought the Doldenhorn nappe closer to the surface. The associated cooling resulted in a freezing in of the paleo-isotherms of peak metamorphic conditions. Contemporaneous shearing localized in the basal thrust, initially still in the ductile deformation regime and finally as brittle faulting and cataclasis inducing ultimately an inverse metamorphic zonation. With ongoing exhumation and the formation of the Helvetic antiformal nappe stack, a bending of large-scale tectonic structures (thrusts, folds), peak temperature isotherms and cooling isotherms occurred. While this local bending can directly be attributed to active deformation underneath the section investigated up to times of 2–3 ma, a more homogeneous uplift of the entire region is suggested for the very late and still active exhumation stage.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Herwegh, Marco and Pfiffner, Othmar-Adrian


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Marco Herwegh

Date Deposited:

04 Aug 2016 15:40

Last Modified:

04 Aug 2016 15:40

Publisher DOI:






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