Platform-basin transitions and their role in Alpine-style collision systems: a comparative approach

Cameron Bell, Robert W. H. Butler

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The structure of Alpine-type orogenic belts is widely assumed to have been strongly influenced by the inherited structure of the rifted continental margins from which they were formed. The challenge lies in deciphering these influences when orogenic contraction is strong. Contractional deformation in the Kamchia basin (SW Black Sea), caught between the Balkan orogenic belt and the stable Moesian block, has been arrested, preserving the early development of an Alpine-type orogen. We use 3D seismic and well-data to examine the tectonic and stratigraphic structure of this basin. Significant deformation has occurred underwater, through inversion tectonics within the basin itself. However, the basin margin structures have not reactivated. This margin is marked by a low-angle unconformity across which sediment was routed from the platform into the fledgling syn-orogenic basins. Such pathways may explain non-orogen-derived sediment within parts of the ancestral Apennine foredeep, for example. The role of platform margins to focus contractional deformation may have been over-emphasised elsewhere in the Alpine system. Further, the more strongly subsided portions of rifted margins may have accommodated significant contractional deformation through reactivation of basin faults. In the western Alps the complexity of structural juxapositions across thrust sheets in the Brianconnais may reflect these early-orogenic deformations rather than be the product of deformation that happened after tectonic burial. These early deformations are likely to be recorded in early syn-tectonic depositional sequences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-546
Number of pages12
JournalSwiss Journal of Geosciences
Issue number2
Early online date10 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

CB acknowledges financial support from Optimus (Aberdeen) ltd. Petroceltic International plc are thanked for providing access to the subsurface data used in this study and for permission to publish images used here. Schlumberger are thanked for providing use of Petrel software under their academic agreement with the University of Aberdeen. RWHB thanks the organisers of the 12th Emile Argand Conference on Alpine Geological Studies for the invitation and financial support to participate in the Montgenevre workshop. Reviewers Enrico Tavarnelli, Thierry Dumont and editors Christian Sue and Stefan Schmid are all thanked for their comments that have significantly improved this contribution.


  • Orogenic front
  • Balkanides
  • Western Alps
  • Moesian platform
  • Kamchia Basin


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