Jurassic syn-rift and Cretaceous syn-orogenic, coarse-grained deposits related to opening and closure of the Vahic (South Penninic) Ocean in the Western Carpathians – an overview

Dusan Plasienka


Although no undoubted oceanic crustal rock complexes of Penninic affinity participate in the present surface structure of the Western Carpathians, indirect lines of evidence suggest prolongation of the South Penninic–Vahic oceanic tract into the ancient Carpathians. The sedimentary record of both the syn-rift and syn-orogenic clastic deposits reveal their origin between the outer Tatric (Austroalpine) and the inner Oravic (Middle Penninic) margins. The rifting regime is exemplified by the normal fault-related scarp breccias of the Jurassic Borinka Unit in the Malé Karpaty Mts., which are characterized by local, gradually denuded source areas. Two other regions provide examples of a contractional regime, both related to shortening and closure of the Vahic oceanic domain. The Belice Unit in the Považský Inovec Mts. includes Upper Jurassic–Lower Cretaceous eupelagic, mostly siliceous deposits and a thickening-upwards Senonian sequence of turbiditic sandstones, conglomerates and chaotic breccias. It is inferred that this succession represents the sedimentary cover of oceanic crust approaching a trench, its incorporation in the accretionary complex and finally underthrusting below the outer Tatric margin. In the Oravic units of the Pieniny Klippen Belt, deep-marine conglomerate/breccia bodies with olistoliths indicate collision-related thrust stacking that started from the Maastrichtian (Gregorianka Breccia of the Sub-Pieniny Unit) and terminated with the Lower Eocene Milpoš Breccia in the Šariš Unit. In addition, a tentative recycling scheme of “exotic” clastic material from mid-Cretaceous conglomerates of the Klape Unit to various Klippen Belt units is outlined. This material is considered to be unrelated to the Vahic oceanic realm and its closure, and likely represents erosional products of more distant orogenic zones.


Western Carpathians; Mesozoic; rifting; thrusting; deep-marine clastics; mass-flow deposits.

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