Western Alps geological constraints on western Tethyan reconstructions

G.M. Stampfli, G.D. Borel, R. Marchant, and J. Mosar

Reconstructions of the Tethyan realm have been a matter of debate for a long time. Controversies spring usually from a lack of well constrained geological data which can be interpreted in different ways, or, from a lack of constraints on the plate tectonics framework. The western Alps region tends to escape these shortcomings due to a wealth of geological data regarding for examples the rifting and spreading of the Alpine Tethys and its closure, the formation of the Alpine orogenic wedge and accompanying foreland basins, through precise datation of these many events. The larger plate tectonic framework is also well constrained through precise positioning, at least since the Jurassic, of the main plates surrounding the western Alpine Tethys domain, such as the European and African plates, but also the Iberic and Adria micro-plates and the Alboran fragments. Therefore, the Western Alps and surrounding regions represent a key-stone for the western Tethys reconstruction. A detail account of the geological evolution along a western Swiss Alps transect is presented here and confronted to the plate tectonic models derived from a larger western Tethys data base.