The intramontane Orava Basin – evidence of large-scale Miocene to Quaternary sinistral wrenching in the Alpine-Carpathian-Pannonian area

Mirosław Ludwiniak, Michał Śmigielski, Sebastian Kowalczyk, Maciej Łoziński, Urszula Czarniecka, Lena Lewińska


The Carpathian Orava Basin is a tectonic structure filled with Neogene and Quaternary deposits superimposed on the collision zone between the ALCAPA and European plates. Tectonic features of the south-eastern margin of the Orava Basin and the adjoining part of the fore-arc Central Carpathian Palaeogene Basin were studied. Field observations of mesoscopic structures, analyses of digital elevation models and geological maps, supplemented with electrical resistivity tomography surveys were performed. Particular attention was paid to joint network analysis. The NE-SW-trending Krowiarki and Hruštinka-Biela Orava sinistral fault zones were recognized as key tectonic features that influenced the Orava Basin development. They constitute the north-eastern part of a larger Mur-Mürz-Žilina fault system that separates the Western Carpathians from the Eastern Alps. The interaction of these sinistral fault zones with the older tectonic structures of the collision zone caused the initiation and further development of the Orava Basin as a strike-slip-related basin. The Krowiarki Fault Zone subdivides areas with a different deformation pattern within the sediments of the Central Carpathian Palaeogene Basin and was active at least from the time of cessation of its sedimentation in the early Miocene. Comparison of structural data with the recent tectonic stress field, earthquake focal mechanisms and GPS measurements allows us to conclude that the Krowiarki Fault Zone shows a stable general pattern of tectonic activity for more than the last 20 myr and is presently still active.


Orava Basin; Central Carpathian Palaeogene Basin; Structural analysis; Strike-slip related basin; Transrotational basin; Joint pattern analysis; Western Carpathians

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