Alpide Folding

Alpide Folding


a folding which occurred predominantly in the Cenozoic era within geosynclinal regions and developed in late Mesozoic and Paleocene times. It ended with the development of young mountain systems. The Alps are a typical example of this folding—hence the term “Alpide.” In addition to the Alps, Alpide folding in Europe produced the Pyrenees, the Andalusian mountains, the Apennines, the Carpathians, the Dinaric Alps, the Balkans, the Crimean mountains, and the Caucasian ranges. In North Africa, it produced the northern portion of the Atlas Mountains. In Asia, the orogeny produced the Pontine, Taurus, and Turkmen-Khorosan ranges; the Elbrus, Zag-ros, and Suleiman ranges; the Himalayas; and the folded mountain chains of Burma, Indonesia, Kamchatka, Japan, and the Philippine Islands. It also produced the folded ranges of the Alaska and California coasts in North America, the Andes in South America, and the archipelagoes which border Australia on the east, including New Guinea and New Zealand.

A weaker Mesozoic folding preceded the Cenozoic in many of the mountain systems enumerated above; these Mesozoic movements can be considered Alpide folding in the broad sense of the term. The Mesozoic folding, however, was very intensive and had an independent significance along the margins of the Pacific, and the Cenozoic folding occurred here later than it did in the Mediterranean belt. Therefore, independent Mesozoic and late Alpide, or Kamchatka, folding are identified in the eastern USSR.

The Alpide folding did not appear only in geosynclinal belts as postgeosynclinal orogenic movements; it also affected adjacent cratons—including the Jura Mountains and Pyrénées in Western Europe, the southern portion of the Atlas Mountains in North Africa, the Tadzhik Depression, the southwestern margins of the Gissar Ranges in Central Asia, the eastern Rocky Mountains in North America, the Patagonian Andes in South America, and the Antarctic Peninsula. The Alpide folding also produced the domes and interior basins of Central Asia, including the Fergana and Tsaidam basins, which developed in the course of the cratonic mountain building.

Alpide folding in the broad sense—that is, including Mesozoic and Cenozoic events—consists of several phases, among which are the Laramide (at the end of the Cretaceous and the beginning of the Paleocene), the Pyrénean (the end of the Eocene and beginning of the Oligocene), the Savan (during the Oligocene-Miocene transition, the Styrian (mid-Miocene), the Rhodonian (mid-Pliocene), and Vallachian (Pleistocene). Each phase affected only part of the entire Alpide folding region.

The regions affected by Alpide folding also exhibit intense tectonic activity in recent times, expressed in intensely dissected topography, strong seismicity, and volcanic activity in many locations.


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