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Geological Institute, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dúbravská cesta 9, 842 26 Bratislava, Slovak Republic

(Manuscript received, October 3, 1996; accepted in revised form December 12, 1996)


 During the Cretaceous, the Central Western Carpathians (CWC) evolved as an intracontinental thrust belt

by progradational shortening from the inner (Meliatic) towards the outer (Penninic-Vahic) bounding oceanic domain.
The Early Cretaceous basement nappe stacking in the internal CWC zones was coeval with distension in the external
zones, followed by a collapse of the overthickened crust, unroofing of the Veporic metamorphic core complex and
gravity gliding of the cover nappe systems towards the unconstrained Tatric foreland in mid-Cretaceous times. In the
Late Cretaceous, shortening affected the external CWC zones and the Vahic ocean was consumed. The available data
on the geochronological, magmatic, metamorphic, structural, lithostratigraphic and sedimentological record of these
processes are reviewed and their broad-scale tentative interpretation is presented.

Key words:

 Central Western Carpathians, Cretaceous, orogenic processes, rock record data, paleotectonic scenario.


All fundamental features of the imposing nappe structure in
the Central Western Carpathians (CWC, Fig. 1) originated
during the Cretaceous. The CWC are considered here as an
early Alpidic orogenic belt located between two principal,
more or less latitudinally trending oceanic sutures: the
Penninic-Vahic in the north and the Meliata-Hallstatt in the
south (all directional statements in the paper refer to the
present structures and coordinates). In this sense, the CWC
encompass all the units which were paleogeographically lo-
cated between the axes (although poorly defined) of these
two oceanic domains. The units which were clearly derived
from the zones beyond the oceanic axes, i.e. the Oravic units
of the Pieniny Klippen Belt in the north and the Turnaic
nappes of the southern Meliatic margin will not be treated
here, though especially the latter shared a common history
with the southern CWC zones after being emplaced probably
in the Early Cretaceous.

The sutures are diachronous — the Meliata-Hallstatt ocean

was rifted in the Middle Triassic (or even earlier) and closed in
the Late Jurassic (e.g. Kozur 1991), while the Penninic-Vahic
opened in the Middle Jurassic and was locked during the latest
Cretaceous to Early Tertiary (Plašienka 1995a, b). However,
the surface exposures of both sutures are rather poor and dis-
continuous. Their exact position in the Carpathian edifice is a
matter of discussion and several branches of both oceanic do-
mains may be present (Kozur & Mock 1996).

Another problem arises with the affilation of the Gemeric

basement sheet which is usually considered to be an Inner
West Carpathian element (e.g. Mock 1978; Mišík et al. 1985;
Kozur & Mock 1996), on the basis of its compositional affin-
ities to the Upper Austroalpine – South Alpine units. In spite
of this, the Gemeric sheet is one of the three main
crustal-scale imbrications of the CWC, as seen in the deep
Transcarpathian seismic lines 2T (Tomek 1993) and G
(Vozár et al. 1995). The Gemeric units exhibit close structur-

al relationships to the underlying Veporic superunit and there
are no indications of an oceanic suture in between, at least
along the Lubeník or Hrádok lines in the western part. In the
eastern Margecany sector of the Gemeric/Veporic interface,
the presence of the Folkmár suture zone as a Meliatic branch
has been inferred by Kozur & Mock (1995). However, this
may be an apparent suture - tectonic outlier of the Meliatic
Bôrka Nappe (ascertained nearby by Németh 1996), later in-
corporated into a steep transpressional structure along the
Košice-Margecany shear zone, either dextral (Gazdačko
1994), or sinistral (Jacko et al. 1996). In this respect, the re-
lation of the Gemeric Unit to the Veporic Unit is comparable
to, for example, that of the Paleozoic of the Graz thrust com-
plex to the Middle Austroalpine superunit (e.g. Fritz et al.

Accordingly, the CWC, as a lateral analogue of the Aus-

troalpine system, would be composed of the Tatric, Veporic
and Gemeric thick-skinned basement sheets, adjacent parts
of bounding oceanic realms (Vahic and Meliatic), and the
Fatric, Hronic and Silicic cover nappe systems (Fig. 1). Pa-
leogeographically, only the Fatric (Krížna) nappes were
clearly positioned within the CWC basement area — be-
tween the Tatric and Veporic domains. The homeland of the
Hronic (Choč) nappes remains disputable (as that of the Ba-
juvaric–Tirolic system of the Northern Calcareous Alps
does), though most probably still northerly of the
Meliata-Hallstatt oceanic channel. The upper Juvavic and Si-
licic units with obvious “southern” affinities, which are often
underlain by Meliatic slices, may have been derived from the
southern margin of this ocean (Hók et al. 1995), though most
authors place the Silicic depositional area north of the Meli-
atic oceanic basin (e.g. Andrusov 1975; Kovács 1982, 1992;
Kozur 1991; Dercourt et al. 1992; Michalík 1994a; Haas et
al. 1995; Kozur & Mock 1996). Nevertheless, after being
emplaced during the Late Cretaceous, the Silicic nappes be-
came integral constituents of the CWC, far to the north of the
Meliatic suture.

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100                                                                                              PLAŠIENKA

The present contribution aims at an integration of the

available rock record data, a lot of them collected during re-
cent years, into a tentative temporal/spatial scenario for the
Cretaceous tectonic processes in the CWC area. The whole
story is described in seven, more or less independent, evolu-
tionary stages. The data are listed following the most fre-
quently accepted S-N arrangement of the principal isopic
zones, though not necessarily representing their original pa-
linspastic positions: Meliatic–Gemeric–Veporic (Silicic and
Hronic as possible lateral paleogeographical analogues of the
latter two, respectively)–Fatric–Tatric–Vahic Zone. First of
all the most important general articles, where extensive data
sources can be found, and the newest results, are quoted.
Concerning the geochronological datings, preferably reliable




Ar ages and reconsidered isochron datings are taken

into account. The interpretations consider all fundamental in-
formation on the stratigraphic, sedimentary, magmatic, meta-
morphic, structural and thermochronological records of the
respective stage which are relevant to the paleotectonic as-
sumptions and the geodynamic background of the recon-
structed processes. The most topical problems and enigmatic
points in the evolution which need further detailed studies
are also mentioned.

Principal evolutionary stages

(1) Late Jurassic – Early Cretaceous 

(150–125 Ma, Early

Tithonian to Early Barremian according to the timescale by
Gradstein et al. 1994)


— end of flysch and olistostromatic sedimentation in the
Meliatic and Silicic zones before the Kimmeridgian (Kozur
1991; Sýkora & Ožvoldová 1996);
— Tithonian shallow-water limestones in the Silicic (only
known from pebbles in the Senonian and Tertiary conglomer-
ates, cf. Mišík & Sýkora 1980);
— 160–150 Ma 




Ar phengite ages of HP/LT metamor-

phism in the Meliatic Bôrka Nappe (Maluski et al. 1993;
Dallmeyer et al. 1994, 1996; Faryad & Henjes-Kunst 1995);
— blueschist pebbles of the same glaucophane 




Ar pla-

teau age (155 Ma — Dal Piaz et al. 1995) occur in
mid-Cretaceous conglomerates of the Periklippen Klape Unit;
— two Rb-Sr isochrons of whole rock — biotite couples
from the Gemeric granites (138 and 142 Ma, Kovách et al.
1986; Cambel et al. 1990);

Fig. 1. 

Distribution of pre-Tertiary tectonostratigraphic units in the West-Carpathian area.

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— low-temperature step in the 




Ar spectrum of musco-

vites from the Košice-Margecany fault mylonites at the Ve-
poric/Gemeric contact (135 Ma, Maluski et al. 1993);




Ar plateau ages of recrystallized pre-Alpine am-

phiboles may represent mixed ages of not fully reequilibrated
isotopic systems (143 Ma, Maluski et al. 1993; 150 and
137.3 Ma, Kováčik et al. 1996);
— no sedimentary data from the Gemeric and Veporic (except
the Ve ký Bok Unit paleogeographically assigned to the Fatric);
— pelagic sedimentation followed by the Hauterivian turbid-
itic sequence (Jablonský 1992) terminated deposition in the
Hronic area;
— continuing, mostly deep-water pelagic sedimentation in
the Fatric and Tatric;
— Neocomian allodapic turbidites in the Tatric and Fatric
pelagites, mostly derived from local intrabasinal sources, but
Rossfeld-like siliciturbidites with abundant chrome-spinel
grains are rarely present in some Fatric units, being derived
from distant southern sources (Jablonský 1992; Michalík &
Reháková 1995);
— Tithonian (?) submarine hyalobasanitic lavas (“limburg-
ites”) in the Tatric Osobitá succession;
— pelagic sedimentation below CCD in the Vahic Basin
(Plašienka et al. 1994).

All the fundamental data are synoptically depicted in

Fig. 2. “Exotic” pebbles (i.e. of disputable provenance), rep-
resenting this and younger stages, which occur in the mid- to
Late Cretaceous conglomerates of the CWC (Poruba Fm.)
and Peri-Klippen Belt units (Klape and related) will not be
considered in particular here, since they cannot be unambig-
uously regarded as being derived (at least partly) from CWC
units following the above definition (see Plašienka 1995a
and references therein).


The paleotectonic scenario comprises closing of the Melia-

ta ocean during the latest Jurassic and/or earliest Cretaceous
(designated as the “Eohelenic” phase in the Inner Carpathian
Bükkic Unit by Árkai et al. 1995) and loading of the southern
(Gemeric) passive CWC margin by the Meliatic accretionary
complexes, including the rapidly exhumed HP/LT units and
ophiolitic mélanges probably during the earliest Cretaceous.
Then shortening proceeded by footwall propagation of colli-
sional thrust faulting within the lower CWC plate transport-
ing the Gemeric and Meliatic units atop the southern Veporic
domain (some tens of Ma before the metamorphic peak, as
required by thermal modelling) — see Fig. 3. Structuraliza-

Fig. 2. 

Synoptic chart of Cretaceous tectonic events within the Central Western Carpathians.

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102                                                                                              PLAŠIENKA

tion (décollement and internal shortening) of the Silicic and
later Hronic units occured in their unknown (but probably
laterally adjacent) original homelands, related to the home-
lands of the Tirolic and Juvavic units of the Northern Calcar-
eous Alps, the Lower Cretaceous thrusting of which is indi-
cated by radiometric datings as well (Kralik et al. 1987). The
first input of the ophiolite-derived detritus (Hronic, Fatric)
was probably derived from the colliding and gradually uplift-
ing southern zones. Post-rift thermal subsidence continued in
the northernmost Veporic (Ve ký Bok), Fatric and Tatric ar-
eas, interrupted by weak extensional faulting events.

Inferred suturing of the Meliata oceanic domain, collision-

al thickening and footwall propagation of thrusting in the
lower CWC plate were probably driven by the southwards
subcrustal slab-pull of the Meliatic lithosphere (Plašienka
1995b), like the  continuing distension in the distal foreland
Fatric-Tatric areas, still unconstrained by the orogenic front
prograding from the southern hinterland (Fig. 3).

(2) Late Early Cretaceous 

(125–110 Ma, Late Barremian to

Early Albian)


— very scarce direct data from the Meliatic, Silicic, Hronic,
Gemeric and south Veporic units;
— Alpidic remobilization of hydrothermal vein mineraliza-
tion in the northern Gemeric domain (130±20 Ma, U-Pb iso-
topic dating of higher-grade U- and Mo-bearing veins, and
115±10 Ma Pb/Pb model age of low-grade Cu veins — Rojk-
ovič et al. 1993);
— Veporic basement: 




Ar ages of newly-formed Al-

pine tschermakite-type amphiboles (115.3 Ma, Kováčik &
Maluski 1994; 111.2 and 109.9 Ma, Kováčik et al. 1996);
— termination of pelagic sedimentation at the north Veporic/
south Fatric interface (Ve ký Bok Unit);
— huge olistostromatic bodies in the Fatric Zliechov Basin
derived from the south (Jablonský & Marschalko 1992);
— short-living “Urgonian” carbonate platforms in the north
Fatric–south Tatric domains, rimmed by allodapic clastic
fans (Mišík 1990; Michalík & Soták 1990; Michalík 1994b);
— generally pelagic deposition continued in the Fatric-
Tatric-Vahic area, but some siliciclastic turbidites of local
sources occur in the northern Tatric Unit (Solírov Fm.,
Jablonský et al. 1993);
— areally extensive, but volumetrically negligible subma-
rine hyalobasanitic volcanism in the Fatric and Tatric region
(Hovorka & Spišiak 1988, 1994), dated by features of sub-
marine extrusion within unconsolidated Barremian–lower
Albian sediments (Hovorka & Sýkora 1979; Kullmanová &
Vozár 1980) and by isotopic dating: two amphibole concen-
trates yielded ages 116 and 106 Ma (K-Ar, Bujnovský et al.
1981) — Fig. 2.


Gradual thermal equilibration and slow uplift of the south-

ern “Ultraveporic” collisional zones were associated with the
northward progradation of contraction to the Veporic/Fatric
margin and its internal imbrication (Fig. 3), producing the to-
pographic gradient controlling mass slope resedimentation in
the Fatric trough. Coeval extensional impulse occurred in the
Fatric-Tatric foreland, where rejuvenization of normal fault-
ing and block tilting was accompanied by small portions of
mantle-derived alkaline basaltic lavas piercing the strongly
thinned crust. Carbonate buildups grew on elevated edges of
tilted blocks, probably supported by bulge upbending and
sea-level drop.

The driving forces are inferred as in the previous stage.

The extensional event in the foreland Tatric-northern Fatric
areas appears to be related to the crustal rupture and initia-
tion of a convergent zone along the Veporic-Fatric margin,
where the attenuated Fatric crust came to be underthrust be-
neath the developing north Veporic orogenic wedge with
stacking of the Ve ký Bok basement/cover subunits at its tip.

Fig. 3. 

Cretaceous crustal tectonic evolution of the Central West-

ern Carpathians shown in seven stages outlined in the text. The
position of the Hronic and Silicic units is not specified, since pro-
files follow the meridian of the Gemeric Unit, where these cover
nappes were probably emplaced laterally. Not to scale.

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(3) Mid-Cretaceous 

(110–90 Ma, Middle Albian to Late Turo-



— only scarce well age-constrained data in the Meliatic, Ge-
meric, Veporic, Silicic and Hronic areas, except thermochro-
— low-grade metamorphic imprint in the Gemeric  Unit is
documented by the 105.8 Ma plateau age from the Permian
metasediments (Dallmeyer et al. 1994);
— Veporic basement: newly formed amphibole 105 Ma
(Kováčik et al. 1996), K-Ar biotite isochron 94±18 Ma (Bur-
chart et al. 1987), Rb-Sr model ages of recrystallized biotites
from the Veporic metagranitoids (98±7 and 88±4 Ma, Bibik-
ova et al. 1990, Putiš 1992), Rb-Sr biotite-whole rock cou-
ples isochrons of the Gemeric granites and the Veporic Roch-
ovce granitic body (between 92 and 112 Ma, Kovách et al.
1986; Cambel et al. 1990 — 8 samples), 101.3 muscovite
plateau age from the Veporic Permian cover metasediments
at the contact with the overlying Gemeric basement (Dallm-
eyer et al. 1996), see also summary by Kováč et al. (1994);
— the Alpidic metamorphic peak in the Veporic Unit has
been recently estimated to the maximum of 550–600 °C and
about 8–10 kbar in the deepest basement unit (Janák &
Plašienka 1996) and to at least 400 °C and 6–8 kbar in the
Permian cover (Janák & Plašienka 1996; Putiš et al. 1995);
— thrusting-related structural record in the rear parts of the
Fatric Krížna cover nappe and in the Ve ký Bok units (their
décollement and stacking) is generally well known (Plašien-
ka 1983, 1995c and references therein), accompanied by an-
chizonal metamorphism (Plašienka et al. 1989), and partly
radiometrically dated (101 Ma, K-Ar on newly formed white
micas — Nemčok & Kantor 1989);
— after the rapid submersion of the Urgonian carbonate plat-
forms, only pelagic and synorogenic coarsening-upward fly-
sch sedimentation (Poruba Fm.) is present in the Fatric (up to
the Early Cenomanian) and Tatric (up to the Early Turonian)
zones (Fig. 2);
— similar, but much thicker Albian-Cenomanian, shallow-
ing-upward wildflysch prisms deposited in the Peri-Klippen
Belt Klape Unit (Marschalko 1986);
— these flysch conglomerates contain, apart from common
CWC lithofacies, also a lot of “exotic” pebbles of disputable
provenance (see reviews by Mišík et al. 1981; Mišík & Mar-
schalko 1988) and abundant Cr-spinels in the heavy mineral
fraction (Jablonský 1978, Mišík et al. 1980);
— only pelagites are present in the Vahic Belice Unit
(Plašienka et al. 1994);
— shortening within the Tatric basement already began to the
end of this stage, since some contractional macrostructures at
the South Tatric ridge — Šiprúň Basin interface (Nízke and
Vysoké Tatry Mts.) are partly sealed by the superimposed
Krížna Nappe (Bujnovský 1979; Dumont et al. 1996).


The thermal equilibration and the peak of Barrowian-type

metamorphism was probably reached in the deeply buried

Veporic basement and cover complexes around 110 Ma b.p.,
indicated by amphibole ages close to their crystallization.
Thermal softening of the Ultraveporic thrust stack enabled
its later unroofing. During the mid-Cretaceous stage, a rapid
underplating of the Fatric basement below the Veporic one
forced compressional upheaval of the Veporic–Gemeric–Me-
liatic (“exotic”) pile (Fig. 3), the top of which came to be ex-
posed to intense erosion and fed the neighbouring Poruba
Flysch Basin with coarse clastics, mostly “exotic”. The posi-
tion of the Klape Basin, which received the same types of
clastic material, is a matter of controversy (see discussion in
paper by Plašienka 1995a, who considers the Klape Unit to
be a Fatric element). However, most authors place the Klape
Basin north of the Tatric Unit. The Tatric Urgonian platforms
were submerged due to flexural downbending of the lower
orogenic plate, which also contributed to the development of
the fore-arc or trench-type flysch basins. Contemporaneous-
ly, the sedimentary succession of the Fatric Basin was gradu-
ally detached from its underthrust substratum along the hori-
zon of Upper Scythian shales and evaporites and formed up
an imbricated fold-and-thrust wedge accreted to the upper
Veporic plate (Plašienka & Prokešová in press). Positive in-
version started in the inner Tatric zones.

The above scenario requires physical modelling to assess

the interplay among foreland extension, bulge upbending and
flexural downbending, and interland contractional uplift.
These processes might be driven by the southward pull of the
lower plate triggering the foreland propagation of thrust
faulting of units accreted step-by-step to the toe of the upper
plate orogenic wedge (Plašienka 1995b).

(4) Late Turonian 

(around 90 Ma)


— extensive surface overthrusting event in the CWC: em-
placement of the Fatric (Krížna) and Hronic (Choč) décolle-
ment cover nappe systems, closely time-constrained by the
youngest Tatric cover sediments below the Krížna overthrust
plane (lower Turonian — Cúlová & Andrusov 1964;
Bujnovský & Polák 1985) and the oldest basinal post-nappe
Gosau deposits atop the Hronic nappes (Upper Coniacian in
the western part of the CWC — e.g. Salaj & Began 1983) —
Fig. 2;
— structural features at the soles of superficial nappes in-
clude overpressured tectonic carbonate breccias (Plašienka &
Soták in press), sometimes entirely dissolved (“macrostylo-
lite” of Jaroszewski 1982), without a considerable deforma-
tion effect on the footwall rocks;
— emplacement of the Krížna Nappe is recorded by exten-
sional structures superimposed on the older contractional
ones in its rear and dorsal parts (Prokešová 1994; Plašienka
& Prokešová in press).


Structural associations and relationships in the cover

nappes point to the final gravity gliding emplacement mecha-
nism, though push from the rear and gravity spreading might

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have contributed as well, especially in the first phases of
thrusting. The necessary topographic gradient was produced
by overstepping the frontal Tatric ramp in the case of the
Krížna Nappe (cf. Plašienka & Prokešová in press). The de-
tachment and driving mechanisms of the Hronic nappes, es-
pecially of those floored by thick Upper Paleozoic sedimen-
tary and volcanic sole (Ipoltica group), is more difficult to
interpret. Probably the Hronic nappes were derived from
southern, rapidly uplifting zones juxtaposed to the ultra-Ve-
poric thrust stack to the SW (?), which avoided considerable
Early Cretaceous basement stacking. The Silicic units might
be originally related to the Hronic ones, their final emplace-
ment seems to be younger, however.

There is a limited time interval available for the final em-

placement of the Fatric and Hronic nappes over the Tatric
Unit, not exceeding ca. 2–3 Ma. On the basis of the clear
structural disconformity at the sole of Hronic units with re-
spect to the rear parts of the Krížna and Ve ký Bok units, the
Choč and related nappes had to be emplaced with some de-
lay, but still within this interval. There are even indications
of overthrusting of the Hronic nappes onto an actively short-
ened substratum. Nevertheless, both systems might have
moved more or less simultaneously in the frontal CWC
zones (Fig. 3). Summing up, the emplacement of the Fatric
and Hronic nappe systems appears to be a comparatively
very short surface event, being driven by gravity gliding to-
wards the unconstrained basinal foreland, not directly related
to the main shortening phases in their respective homeland
paleogeographical domains.

(5) Early Senonian 

(90–80 Ma, Late Turonian to Early



— 87.7 Ma plateau age of muscovites from the Gemeric
basement (Dallmeyer et al. 1996);
— most of the isotopic cooling ages from the Veporic meta-
morphic core complex fall within this time interval (Fig. 2),
as revealed by 




Ar thermochronology (Maluski et al.

1993; Dallmeyer et al. 1993; 1994, 1996; Kováčik et al.
1996; additional data see in review by Kováč et al. 1994):
amphibole 87.4, white micas and whole-rock phyllites 88.1,
87.2, 86.9, 86.4, 86.1, 86, 85.2 and 83.9 Ma, biotites 86.7,
86.6 and 80 Ma;
— 89–71 Ma K-Ar model ages of adularia from Alpine-type
mineralized fissures in the Veporic basement (Hurai et al.
— first FT apatite ages from the Veporic basement (Krá
— cooling was accompanied by ductile extensional unroof-
ing of the Veporic core with top-to-the east kinematics in its
eastern part (Hók et al. 1993; Plašienka 1993);
— orogen-parallel extension occurred under a general N-S
contractional regime with sinistral transpression and tran-
stension along SW-NE trending wrench zones (e.g. the Po-
horelá fault zone — Hók & Hraško 1990; Putiš 1991, 1994;
Madarás et al. 1994);

— extension culminated by intrusion of the Rochovce Gran-
ite in the southern Veporic Unit (81 Ma zircon age — Hraško
et al. 1995), which is an alkaline granitic intrusion generated
by anatexis of crustal rocks and emplaced in an extensional
regime into the upper crustal levels (Radvanec 1995) with a
contact metamorphic aureole superimposed on regional min-
eral assemblages (Korikovsky et al. 1987; Vozárová 1990;
Bezák 1991; Krist et al. 1992);
— unmetamorphosed Silicic nappes in the Veporic and Ge-
meric area overrode a deeply denuded substratum, therefore
a pronounced metamorphic and structural gap exists at their
bases, representing some 15–20 km of the missing rock col-
umn in between;
— sporadically preserved Lower Senonian sediments in the
CWC (except their northern rim — Peri- Klippen Belt) con-
sist of probably Santonian continental conglomerates and
fresh-water limestones, as well as Campanian open-marine
variegated marls;
— the Vahic Belice succession exhibits the turnover from eu-
pelagic to coarsening-upward flysch sedimentation at the Tu-
ronian/Coniacian boundary (Plašienka et al. 1994);
— Lower Senonian sediments along the outer Tatric edge in
the Periklippen zone show variable compositions and sedi-
mentary enviroments, from transgressive and then deepening
Senonian succession of the Gosau Group up to continuous
(?) Upper Cretaceous pelagic and flysch sequences (e.g.
Marschalko 1986; Salaj 1994a,b, 1995).


Extensive gravitational collapse of the overthickened

southern CWC zones was triggered by contractional uplift of
the Veporic core probably due to underplating of buoyant
Fatric crust (Fig. 3) and/or subcrustal slab detachment and
was enhanced by strain softening after thermal relaxation of
the Lower Cretaceous thrust stack. The cooling ages of min-
erals with different blocking temperatures cluster between 88
and 84 Ma (Coniacian – Santonian) which indicates an accel-
erating uplift in this time. The rapidly exhumed Veporic cov-
er and basement units were in turn overthrust by unmetamor-
phosed cover nappes of the Silicic system, probably as
subaerial relief thrusts (Plašienka & Soták in press). The Ve-
poric cover and upper parts of the basement were highly mo-
bile during the low-angle extension which superposed sheet-
like units with an upward discontinuously decreasing
metamorphic overprint and telescoped isograds (Fig. 4). The
sedimentary area above the Silicic nappes (probably still in
their original homelands) was flooded by an epicontinental
sea in the Campanian (partly also as a consequence of the sea
level highstand). No record of this stage has been recognized
in the northern (Tatric) area of the CWC, which was most
probably a dry land exposed to karstification especially of
Triassic carbonate complexes of the uppermost Hronic
nappes (Michalík & Činčura 1992; Činčura & Köhler 1995).
On the other hand, zones along the northern CWC margin
underwent the main compressional phase after the conver-
sion of the Tatric/Vahic passive margin into an active one
(Plašienka 1995a,b). The frontal Fatric-Hronic nappe ele-

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ments partly glided into a position above the subducted Va-
hic oceanic crust in front of the Tatric edge (Fig. 3), where
they became incorporated into a fold-and-thrust wedge ac-
creted to the toe of the upper (Tatric) plate. The sedimentary
cover of the oceanic Vahic basement was partly detached to
form a subcretionary complex underneath the Tatric toe
(Plašienka 1995d). It follows that the converging zone was
composed of distinct sectors where the Tatric/Vahic contact
was buried below the Central Carpathian nappe units topped
by compressional piggyback forearc-type basins, and other
sectors where this contact was exposed at the surface and
trench-type wildflysch sedimentation occurred atop the low-
er Vahic plate (Belice Unit — Plašienka 1995a, his Fig. 8).

The available cooling data and uplift rate estimates of the

Veporic metamorphic dome shift the possible emplacement
event of the Silicic Muráň and Stratená nappes up to at least
the Early Campanian, most probably even to the late Campa-
nian (Fig. 4). This is clearly documented by the unmetamor-
phosed Muráň Nappe rocks directly overlying the Veporic
Foederata cover, which passed only the 300 


C isotherm dur-

ing the earliest Senonian. This poses a question of the time
relationships between the sedimentation of the Gosau depos-
its and the overthrusting event in this area (Fig. 4). From the
above facts, the intra-Senonian or even post-Senonian em-
placement of the Silicic Stratená Nappe (suggested by Hov-
orka et al. 1990), or of the Drienok Nappe (Slavkay & Ro-
hálová 1993) cannot be excluded. However, the homelands,
translation directions and time schedule of the Silicic nappes
remain enigmatic, though a number of solutions has been
proposed by different authors (recently e.g. Hók et al. 1995;

Kozur & Mock 1995). The possibility exists that the Silicic
nappes were displaced from the rear of the Hronic-Silicic
stack by gliding induced by eastward lowering topographic
gradient produced by westward migrated uplift and eastward
unroofing of the Veporic core. In that case, the Silicic nappes
could translate across and/or along the principal structural
trends of exhumed domains, i.e. towards the N to NNE
(Drienok Nappe), NE (orogen-parallel, Muráň and Stratená
nappes), or E to SE (Silica-Aggtelek Nappe, possibly also
the Kisfennsík Nappe in the Bükk Mts. — cf. Csontos 1988).
Accordingly, the Silicic “homeland” might be situated in the
southern CWC zones (north of the Hurbanovo–Diósjenö
line, Fig. 1), in the area which had avoided the overriding by
the Meliatic units and now is hidden below the Tertiary sedi-
mentary and volcanic cover. This mechanism could reason-
ably account for the presence of Meliatic slices at the soles
of the Silicic nappes. These would not be torn out substratum
slivers during their S-N translation across the Meliatic su-
ture, but rather decoupled fragments (or even ophiolite-bear-
ing conglomerates) from the top of the collapsed ultra-Ve-
poric thrust stack later incorporated into tectonic breccias at
the soles of the Silicic nappes (Plašienka & Soták in press).

(6) Middle Senonian 

(80–70 Ma, middle Campanian to ear-

ly Maastrichtian)

— scarce well age-constrained data in the internal CWC
zones, except that of biotite 




Ar (75.1 Ma, Kováčik et

al. 1996) from the Veporic basement;

Fig. 4. 

Tentative diagram of Cretaceous burial and uplift history of the Veporic metamorphic core complex. Three variants of the time o f final

emplacement of the Silicic nappes are considered: (1) the late Turonian (pre-Gosauian) overthrust, coeval with the Fatric and H ronic nappes,
is not in line with the thermochronological data from the Veporic basement and cover and would mean inprobably high uplift rate s in excess
of 2 mm/a already before 90 Ma (path A); (2) the Campanian (intra-Gosauian) between deposition of continental conglomerates and  marine
marls; (3) the latest Senonian (post-Gosauian). Variants (2) and (3) fit the reliable uplift rates around 0.7 mm/a for the Vepo ric cover and
1 mm/a for the deepest Veporic basement unit (path B), but these are not sufficiently justified by regional data. Variant (3) i s favoured.

background image

106                                                                                              PLAŠIENKA




Ar low temperature step of 75.3 Ma from musco-

vites of mylonitized Tatric granitoids of the High Tatra Mts.
(Maluski et al. 1993);
— K-Ar datings of the basement mylonites within the semi-
ductile shear zones accompanying overthrust planes between
the infra-Tatric and Tatric units in the Malé Karpaty Mts. (77
and 74 Ma — Kantor ex Putiš 1991);
— sediments of this age, mostly couches-rouges type pelag-
ites, are present only in the Periklippen area (Gosau Group);
— the unique “red flysch” Hranty beds of the Vahic Belice
Unit, cropping out from below the infra-Tatric
basement-cover units in the Považský Inovec Mts. are an ex-
ception consisting of pelagic marls, calciclastic turbidites
and bodies of chaotic megabreccias (Plašienka et al. 1994)
which terminate sedimentation in the exposed sections of the
Vahic Belice Unit (Fig. 2).


The uplift and collapse in the internal CWC zones slowly

ceased, though they were continuously supported by a con-
tractional tectonic regime. The gliding emplacement event of
the Silicic cover nappes probably occurred. In the most ex-
ternal CWC zone, the final basement nappe edifice of the
outer Tatric edge was formed (Fig. 3), where the infra-Tatric
(e.g. the Borinka Unit) and Tatric s.s. (e.g. the Bratislava
Nappe) complexes underwent very low- to low-grade meta-
morphism due to the basement nappe stacking (Plašienka et
al. 1991, 1993). The subcreted Vahic (Belice) rocks were an-
chimetamorphosed as well (Plašienka 1995d). On the sur-
face, the sea-level highstand caused flooding of local terrige-
nous sources, hence mostly marly sediments were deposited,
except the extremely proximal Belice trench-type trough fed
by the overriding fronts of infra-Tatric and higher units.

The structuralization of basement units in the CWC was

completed by stacking along the outer Tatric edge. The over-
all Cretaceous shortening polarity within the CWC realm in-
dicates that the passive to active margin inversion of the Tat-
ric/Vahic contact was not a cause, but a consequence of the
CWC contraction (Plašienka 1995b). Rather than “active”
B-type oceanic subduction, an underthrusting of (sub) ocean-
ic Vahic crust beneath the delaminated upper-crustal Tatric
sheet probably occurred (Fig. 3). To drive the underthrusting,
a southward subcrustal pull and/or northward upper-crustal
push had to operate.

(7) Late Senonian–Early Paleogene 

(70–60 Ma, middle

Maastrichtian to Danian/Thanetian boundary)


— low-temperature step at 66 Ma in the 




Ar age spec-

trum from white micas of mylonitic Tatric granites in the
High Tatra Mts. (Maluski et al. 1993);
— the cooling zircon FT age of 69±8 Ma (Kováč et al. 1994)
from the Tatric basement granitoids of the Považský Inovec
— a biostratigraphically determined sedimentary record of
this stage is missing in the CWC;

— the structural record in the CWC is only roughly
age-constrained by the youngest sediments involved (Middle
Senonian - Campanian) and the oldest postdating deforma-
tion (Eocene);
— in the Peri-Klippen and Pieniny Klippen belts sedimenta-
tion exhibits coarsening and/or shallowing-upwards in an ac-
tively shortened accretionary wedge under the dextral
transpressional regime (Nemčok & Nemčok 1994);
— a new transgressive sedimentary cycle after the main
shortening phase of the Klippen belt units is inferred in its
Polish sector (Maastrichtian Jarmuta Fm. — Birkenmajer
— ephemeral upper Danian reefs (e.g. Köhler et al. 1993)
were later destroyed to form olistolites in Paleogene flysch


In the central and inner West Carpathian zones, a continen-

tal regime with subaerial weathering and karstification is in-
dicated by the development of karst relief and redeposition
of bauxites into karst depressions at the beginning of the Ear-
ly Tertiary, southwards younging transgression (e.g. Činčura
1990). The sedimentary and structural record in the Vahic
Belice Unit indicates the closing of the Penninic-Vahic oce-
anic trough and a collisional event during the latest Senonian
(Plašienka 1995d). The northern CWC margin and the Orav-
ic (Pieniny Klippen Belt s.s.) Czorsztyn continental ribbon
came into collision (Fig. 3), later shortening prograded
northwards into the Outer Carpathian Magura flysch basin
(e.g. Soták 1992; Oszczypko 1992; Winkler & Slaczka
1994). However, suturing of the Penninic-Vahic ocean shows
an eastward migration, since the youngest pre-thrusting sedi-
ments of the subsurface Iňačovce-Krichevo Unit in the base-
ment of the Transcarpathian Basin in eastern Slovakia and
western Ukraine (parallelized with the Alpine Penninic units
by Soták et al. 1992, 1994) are Eocene in age. A collisional
event between the CWC and Oravic units cannot be justified
in the East Slovak sector as well. In the CWC hinterland ar-
eas, the Oravic/Tatric collision is manifested by restricted
backthrusting and development of “synclinoria” involving
higher nappe units and scarce remnants of Senonian sedi-
ments (e.g. Mahe  1995). These were formed under the overall
N-S contractional regime along the NW–SE trending dextral
and SW–NE trending sinistral wrench corridors (Plašienka
1995c), subsequently truncated by discrete brittle strike-slip
faults (e.g. the Muráň fault — cf. Marko 1993) — Fig. 3.

There is a considerable difference between the structures

of the western (SW–NE trending) and eastern (WNW–ESE)
sectors of the Pieniny Klippen belt, Periklippen zone and
marginal CWC zones. In western Slovakia, the latest Creta-
ceous collision was followed by Paleogene – Early Miocene
dextral transpression and Middle Miocene sinistral transten-
sion (cf. Marko et al. 1996 and references therein). On the
contrary, in eastern Slovakia the CWC front is buried below
the thick Tertiary cover, however, the outer CWC edge grad-
ually bifurcates from the Klippen Belt (except for the Hu-
menské vrchy sliver) and the subsurface Iňačovce-Krichevo
unit appears (Fig. 1). This may be tentatively explained by a

background image


lateral non-persistence of the Czorsztyn ribbon continent.
The Iňačovce-Krichevo Unit should therefore represent a
fragment of the Early Tertiary remnant flysch basin, elimi-
nated later together with the Magura trough. The position of
the Klippen Belt in between (with scarce Czorsztyn-type
klippes) may be explained by a large-scale dextral wrenching
along the southern (and possibly also the northern) boundary
fault of the Pieniny Klippen Belt (Plašienka 1995e).

Concluding remarks

The presented database and its interpretation represent the

“state-of-the-art” review of knowledge (though may be sub-
jective in some aspects) about the Cretaceous paleotectonic
evolution of the Central Western Carpathians, an important
piece of the marvellous European Alpidic orogenic belt. Un-
like many other Alpine segments, the CWC record their Cre-
taceous history mostly in an original state, almost untouched
(in the meso- to macroscopic scales) by superimposed Tertia-
ry movements. The main aspect of this history is the “ocean
to ocean”, progradational shortening of a mobile belt floored
by a stretched and attenuated continental crust, a former con-
stituent of the North European Epivariscan platform. Its
“3-S” (stretching–stacking–splitting) evolution certainly had
periods of relative quiescence and slow movements, inter-
rupted by paroxysmal events, but all display compatible ki-
nematic and dynamic characteristics and causal relation-

The above outlined paleotectonic scenario for the CWC is

consistent with the recently proposed double-ocean history
of the Eastern Alps (Thöni & Jagoutz 1993; Froitzheim et al.
1996; Dallmeyer et al. 1996; von Blanckenburg & Davies
1996). This model has been originally envisaged by sedi-
mentological studies (Decker et al. 1987; Pober & Faupl
1988; Tollmann 1989; Faupl & Wagreich 1992; Wagreich et
al. 1995; Winkler 1996) and recently confirmed by the two-
fold ages of Alpine eclogites (Thöni & Jagoutz 1993; Bow-
tell et al. 1994; Froitzheim et al. 1996 and references therein)
and by the footwall propagation of post-collisional thrust
stacking within the Austroalpine system (Dallmeyer et al.
1996). In the Carpathians, the northward shortening polarity
is evident from most of the available lithostratigraphic, struc-
tural and geochronological data.

The main feature, which apparently contradicts this sce-

nario, is the presence of huge mid-Cretaceous flysch com-
plexes with “exotic” material along the outer CWC edge,
mainly in the Klape Unit (Marschalko 1986). On the basis of
this, the concept of the “Pieniny exotic cordillera” or “An-
drusov Ridge” (cf. Mišík & Sýkora 1981; Mišík & Marschal-
ko 1988; Birkenmajer 1988, and references therein) as a
mid-Cretaceous compressional structure has been widely ac-
cepted, obviously in line with the concept of the “northern”
ophiolites- and HP/LT metamorphic rocks-bearing sources
for clastic prisms along the northern Austroalpine margin
(e.g. Gaupp 1983; Winkler 1988, 1996; Pober & Faupl
1988). Recently, however, the Variscan age of at least the HP
minerals has been proved by von Eynatten et al. (1996) for
this northern source.

In the Carpathians, the presence of lowermost Middle Tri-

assic pelagic limestones (Birkenmajer et al. 1990) and Upper
Jurassic blueschists (Dal Piaz et al. 1995) among the pebble
material in the Klape Unit would consequently predict rifting
of the Penninic-Vahic oceanic domain already in the Early
Triassic (proposed by Kozur & Mock 1996) and its closing
(at least incipient) during the Late Jurassic — a conclusion
which is in a severe contradiction with the geological record
in the CWC, and in the Austroalpine as well. For this reason,
Plašienka (1995a) proposed a different model: the Klape and
related units (their pre-Upper Turonian formations) are con-
stituents of the Fatric (Krížna) nappe system rooted in the in-
ner CWC zones, originally juxtaposing collisional
Meliata-Hallstatt suture zones, from which the exotic clastic
material was derived. Although this hypothesis needs further
confirmation (or rejection) by thorough analyses and a num-
ber of objections can be put against it (Mišík 1996; Kozur &
Mock 1996), it could reasonably account for geodynamic in-
consistencies between the supposed contraction along the
outer (Tatric) CWC margin and the prolonged distensional
regime within the CWC throughout the Late Jurassic and
Early Cretaceous (Plašienka 1995a, b). Recently, an alterna-
tive solution has been presented by Kozur & Mock (1996).
They assume the “Pieniny ocean” as a northern branch of the
(South) Penninic ocean, opened already in the Early Triassic.
The South Penninic proper (corresponding to the Vahic,
opened in the Middle Jurassic) should therefore have pro-
longed between the Tatric and Veporic (i.e. somewhere along
the Fatric Basin) to reach the Iňačovce-Krichevo Unit in the
east. However, this opinion seems not to be supported by any
relevant geological datum either in the Carpathians (as con-
cerns the oceanic character of Fatric or adjacent zones), or in
the Alps (as concerns the possibility of pre-Jurassic rifting of
any Penninic oceanic branch).

In addition to these uncertainties, there are still basic gaps

in our knowledge about the Cretaceous paleotectonic evolu-
tion of the CWC proper. Following the seven stages dis-
cerned, these may be listed as follows:
(1) Late Jurassic – Early Cretaceous: the  sedimentary
records in the Meliatic (if ever present), Silicic, Hronic and
Fatric units should be thoroughly studied to obtain new infor-
mation about the temporal and spatial characteristics of sedi-
mentation and provenances of clastic material. The structural
record of thrust stacking and crustal thickening in southern
CWC zones needs to be investigated more detaily, together
with definition of their temporal constraints.
(2) Late Early Cretaceous — more precise age limiting of the
stacking period in the Ve ký Bok Unit (inferred Aptian – ear-
ly Albian) is desired. The age of the widespread vein miner-
alization and material remobilization in southern CWC zones
(Gemeric, Veporic) should be better defined (this applies for
the whole Cretaceous).
(3) Mid-Cretaceous — geochronological evaluation of the
thermal metamorphic peak in the Veporic Unit; provenance,
age and the temporal and spatial dispersal of the “exotic”
clastic material in Albian-Cenomanian flysches.
(4) Late Turonian — emplacement mechanisms of the cover
nappe systems, their translation paths and precise age con-
straints of the main thrusting events. The possibility of the

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108                                                                                              PLAŠIENKA

Fatric provenance of the Peri-Klippen Belt units (especially
the Manín and Klape) should be evaluated by profound struc-
tural, sedimentological and litho-biostratigraphical studies of
key sections.
(5) Early Senonian — physical modelling is required to in-
terpret the observed P-T-t characteristics of metamorphism
and to evaluate the possible contribution of delamination of
the lithospheric root to the Veporic thermal budget and uplift.
The position of the Gosau sediments with respect to the Si-
licic nappes needs to be reconsidered.
(6) Middle Senonian — tectonic events in the infra-Tatric
and Tatric basement, as well as cover units should be dated
by means of 




Ar isotopic method. Sedimentary record

along the outer CWC margin should be reassessed through
integrated sedimentological, biostratigraphic and structural
studies, together with isotopic datings of clastic material.
(7) Late Senonian to Early Paleogene — new geochronologi-
cal data, especially zircon FT cooling ages from the Tatric
basement and sediments of this age would much help in pale-
otectonic reconstructions. Structural analysis has to be more
widely applied in the Klippen and Periklippen belts.


: J. Krá , M. Janák, M. Putiš, J. Michalík

and J. Soták are thanked for fruitfull discussions and providing
some unpublished results. I also thank P. Faupl and M. Rakús
for critical reviews. The paper contributes to the research
project No. 1081 supported by the Scientific Grant Agency,
Slovakia, and to the project “Geodynamic evolution of the
Western Carpathians” guided at the Geological Survey of the
Slovak Republic.


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