Articles | Volume 9, issue 5
Research article
25 Sep 2018
Research article |  | 25 Sep 2018

Linking Alpine deformation in the Aar Massif basement and its cover units – the case of the Jungfrau–Eiger mountains (Central Alps, Switzerland)

David Mair, Alessandro Lechmann, Marco Herwegh, Lukas Nibourel, and Fritz Schlunegger

Abstract. The northwest (NW) rim of the external Aar Massif was exhumed from  ∼ 10 km depth to its present position at 4 km elevation above sea level during several Alpine deformation stages. Different models have been proposed for the timing and nature of these stages. Recently proposed exhumation models for the central, internal Aar Massif differ from the ones established in the covering Helvetic sedimentary units. By updating pre-existing maps and collecting structural data, a structural map and tectonic section were reconstructed. Those were interpreted together with microstructural data and peak metamorphic temperature estimates from collected samples to establish a framework suitable for both basement and cover. Deformation temperatures range between 250 and 330 °C, allowing for semi-brittle deformation in the basement rocks, while the calcite-dominated sedimentary rocks deform in a ductile manner at these conditions. Although field data allow to distinguish multiple deformation stages before and during Aar Massif's exhumation, all related structures formed under similar P, T conditions at the investigated NW rim. In particular, we find that the exhumation occurred during two stages of shearing in Aar Massif's basement, which induced in the sedimentary rocks first a phase of folding and then a period of thrusting, accompanied by the formation of a new foliation.