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Late Variscan exhumation histories of the southern Rhenohercynian Zone and western Mid-German Crystalline Rise: results from thermal modeling

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Thermal modeling techniques constrained by published petrological and thermo-chronometric data were applied to examine late orogenic burial and exhumation at a Variscan suture zone in Central Europe. The suture separates the southern Rhenohercynian zone from the Mid-German Crystalline Rise and traces the former site of a small oceanic basin. Closure of this basin during Variscan subduction and subsequent collision of continental units were responsible for different tectono-metamorphic evolutions in the suture's footwall and hanging wall. Relative convergence rates between the southern Rhenohercynian zone and western Mid-German Crystalline Rise can be inferred from the pressure-temperature-time evolution of the Northern Phyllite Zone. During Late Viséan-Early Namurian times, horizontal thrusting velocities were at least 20 mm/a. Thermal modeling suggests that exhumation of the Mid-German Crystalline Rise occurred temporarily at rates of more than 3 mm/a. Such rapid exhumation cannot be produced by erosion only, but requires a substantial contribution of extensional strain. Exhumation by upper crustal extension occurred contemporaneously with convergence and is explained by continuous underplating of crustal slices and thrusting along faults with ramp-flat geometry. Finally, implications for the tectono-metamorphic history of the study area and the thermal state of the crust during late Variscan exhumation are discussed.

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Henk, A. Late Variscan exhumation histories of the southern Rhenohercynian Zone and western Mid-German Crystalline Rise: results from thermal modeling. Geol Rundsch 84, 578–590 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00284522

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Key words

  • Thermal modeling
  • Late Variscan
  • Exhumation
  • Rhenohercynian Zone
  • Mid-German Crystalline Rise