The 3D interplay between folding and faulting in a syn-orogenic extensional system: the Simplon Fault Zone in the Central Alps (Switzerland and Italy)
- Journal Article
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Extensional low-angle detachments developed in convergent or post-collisional settings are often associated with upright folding of the exhumed footwall. The Simplon Fault Zone (SFZ) is a Miocene low-angle detachment that developed during convergence in the Central Alps (Switzerland and Italy), accommodating a large component of orogen-parallel extension. Its footwall shows complex structural relationships between large-scale backfolds, mylonites and a discrete brittle detachment and forms a 3D gneiss dome reflecting upright folding with fold axes oriented both parallel and perpendicular to the extension direction. We present a regional study that investigates the interplay between folding and faulting and its implications for the resulting exhumation pattern of the gneiss dome using 3D geometric modelling (computer software GeoModeller), together with a consideration of the chronological relationships from field relationships and 40Ar/39Ar dating. The early Simplon mylonitic fabric is clearly folded by both extension-parallel and extension-perpendicular folds, forming a doubly plunging antiform, whereas the later ductile-to-brittle fabric and the cataclastic detachment are only affected by wavy extension-parallel folds. This observation, together with the interpreted cooling pattern across the SFZ, suggests that updoming of the footwall initiated at the onset of faulting during ductile shearing around 18.5 Ma, due to coeval extension and perpendicular convergence. New 40Ar/39Ar dating on micas (biotite and muscovite) from a sample affected by a strong crenulation cleavage parallel to the axial plane of the Glishorn and Berisal parasitic folds establishes that these folds formed at ca. 10 Ma, broadly coeval with late movement along the more discrete detachment of the SFZ. These extension-parallel folds in the footwall of the SFZ developed due to continued convergence across the Alps, accelerating ongoing exhumation of the western Lepontine dome and promoting coeval uplift of the crystalline Aar and Gotthard massifs in the late Miocene. Show more
Journal / seriesSwiss Journal of Geosciences
Pages / Article No.
SubjectFolding; Low-angle detachment; Exhumation; Geometric modelling
Organisational unit03392 - Burg, Jean-Pierre (emeritus)
NotesIt was possible to publish this article open access thanks to a Swiss National Licence with the publisher.
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