Geodynamics of the Alps-Mediterranean mountain belts and basins (January 2019)

"Understanding the central Alpine-Mediterranean chain – a Primer"


Participants will be introduced to mountain-building processes in the Alps and their adjacent chains and basins, as well as analogous mountain belts in other parts of the world. The course is directed especially at non-geologists in AlpArray to show how knowledge of rocks exposed at the surface is used to constrain the structure and evolution of the Alpine chains and their forelands. It provides a survey of the parts of the Alpine chain in the central Mediterranean area (Alps, Apennines, Carpathians, Dinarides) and discusses models of rifting, spreading, subduction and collision. Course material will draw heavily on the experience of the lecturers, who will review case studies and discuss the advantages, but also the pitfalls of state-of-the-art methods used to constrain the motion history leading to the present mountain belts and basins.

Early career scientists (postdocs and PhDs) in the SPP are expected to attend; their travel and hotel costs will be covered by the SPP (keep your receipts and send them after the workshop to together with your IBAN and private address). The course is also open to all members of the AlpArray community.

Location: Freie Universität Berlin, Geocampus Lankwitz, Malteserstrasse 74-100, Haus C, Raum C014 (Bus stop "Emmichstrasse", Bus X83, click here for a plan of how to get to the building).

We recommend you to take a BnB/Hotel close to Rathaus Steglitz.

If you have questions please contact Emanuel Kästle (


Thursday, January 31st

9:00-9:30 Coffee

9:30-9:45 Greeting & remarks

9.45-10:30 How we go from observations to mountain-building processes (Handy, FU-Berlin)

10:30-10:45 Discussion

10:45-11:30 An overview of the Alps & related chains (Handy, FU-Berlin)

11:30-11:45 Discussion

11:45-13:00 Lunch

13:00-13:45 Mediterranean mantle dynamics (C. Faccenna, Roma Tre)

13:45-14:00 Discussion

14:00-14:45 Ongoing motion in the Alps-Mediterranean (J-M. Nocquet, GeoAzur)

14:45-15:00 Break

15:00-15:45 Record of subduction in the Alps (N. Froitzheim, Univ. Bonn)

15:45-16:00 Discussion

16:00-16:15 Report on the 4DMB data management system (L. Cristiano)

16:15-17:30 Aperitif - Meet the experts

18:30 Dinner in town

Friday, February 1st

8:30-9:00 Coffee

9:00-9:45 Dynamics of the Alpine foreland basins (F. Schlunegger, Univ. Bern)

9:45-10:00 Discussion

10:00-10:45 Metamorphism & physical properties of Alpine crust (R. Bousquet, Univ. Kiel)

10:45-11:15 Discussion & Break

11:15-12:00 Plate motion in the Alpine-Mediterranean system (E. Le Breton, FU-Berlin)

12:00-12:15 Discussion

12:15-13:15 Lunch


Further reading (you can find these articles as pdf in the member area)

Baran, R., Friedrich, A. M., & Schlunegger, F. (2014). The late Miocene to Holocene erosion pattern of the Alpine foreland basin reflects Eurasian slab unloading beneath the western Alps rather than global climate change. Lithosphere, 6(2), 124-131.

Bousquet, R., Goffé, B., Le Pichon, X., de Capitani, C., Chopin, C., & Henry, P. (2005). Comment on “Subduction factory: 1. Theoretical mineralogy, densities, seismic wave speeds, and H2O contents” by Bradley R. Hacker, Geoffrey A. Abers, and Simon M. Peacock. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 110(B2).

Bousquet, R., Goffé, B., Henry, P., Le Pichon, X., & Chopin, C. (1997). Kinematic, thermal and petrological model of the Central Alps: Lepontine metamorphism in the upper crust and eclogitisation of the lower crust. Tectonophysics, 273(1-2), 105-127.

Duesterhoeft, E., Quinteros, J., Oberhaensli, R., Bousquet, R., & de Capitani, C. (2014). Relative impact of mantle densification and eclogitization of slabs on subduction dynamics: A numerical thermodynamic/thermokinematic investigation of metamorphic density evolution. Tectonophysics, 637, 20-29.

Faccenna, C., Becker, T. W., Auer, L., Billi, A., Boschi, L., Brun, J. P., ... & Piromallo, C. (2014). Mantle dynamics in the Mediterranean. Reviews of Geophysics, 52(3), 283-332.

Froitzheim, N., Schmid, S. M., & Frey, M. (1996). Mesozoic paleogeography and the timing of eclogite-facies metamorphism in the Alps: a working hypothesis. Eclogae Geologicae Helvetiae, 89(1), 81.

Froitzheim, N., Pleuger, J., Roller, S., & Nagel, T. (2003). Exhumation of high-and ultrahigh-pressure metamorphic rocks by slab extraction. Geology, 31(10), 925-928.

Garefalakis, P., & Schlunegger, F. (2018). Link between concentrations of sediment flux and deep crustal processes beneath the European Alps. Scientific reports, 8(1), 183.

Handy, M. R., Schmid, S. M., Bousquet, R., Kissling, E., & Bernoulli, D. (2010). Reconciling plate-tectonic reconstructions of Alpine Tethys with the geological–geophysical record of spreading and subduction in the Alps. Earth-Science Reviews, 102(3-4), 121-158.

Handy, M. R., Ustaszewski, K., & Kissling, E. (2015). Reconstructing the Alps–Carpathians–Dinarides as a key to understanding switches in subduction polarity, slab gaps and surface motion. International Journal of Earth Sciences, 104(1), 1-26.

Hetényi, G., Plomerová, J., Bianchi, I., Exnerová, H. K., Bokelmann, G., Handy, M. R., ... & AlpArray-EASI Working Group. (2018). From mountain summits to roots: Crustal structure of the Eastern Alps and Bohemian Massif along longitude 13.3° E. Tectonophysics, 744, 239-255.

Le Breton, E., Handy, M. R., Molli, G., & Ustaszewski, K. (2017). Post‐20 Ma Motion of the Adriatic Plate: New Constraints From Surrounding Orogens and Implications for Crust‐Mantle Decoupling. Tectonics, 36(12), 3135-3154.

Nocquet, J. M., & Calais, E. (2004). Geodetic measurements of crustal deformation in the Western Mediterranean and Europe. Pure and applied geophysics, 161(3), 661-681.

Nocquet, J. M. (2012). Present-day kinematics of the Mediterranean: A comprehensive overview of GPS results. Tectonophysics, 579, 220-242.

Nocquet, J. M., Sue, C., Walpersdorf, A., Tran, T., Lenôtre, N., Vernant, P., ... & Chery, J. (2016). Present-day uplift of the western Alps. Scientific reports, 6, 28404.

Royden, L., & Faccenna, C. (2018). Subduction orogeny and the Late Cenozoic evolution of the mediterranean arcs. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 46, 261-289.

Schlunegger, F., & Kissling, E. (2015). Slab rollback orogeny in the Alps and evolution of the Swiss Molasse basin. Nature Communications, 6, 8605.

Stampfli, G. M., Borel, G. D., Marchant, R., & Mosar, J. (2002). Western Alps geological constraints on western Tethyan reconstructions. Journal of the Virtual Explorer, 8, 77.

Weber, S., Sandmann, S., Miladinova, I., Fonseca, R. O., Froitzheim, N., Münker, C., & Bucher, K. (2015). Dating the initiation of Piemonte-Liguria Ocean subduction: Lu–Hf garnet chronometry of eclogites from the Theodul Glacier Unit (Zermatt-Saas zone, Switzerland). Swiss Journal of Geosciences, 108(2-3), 183-199.