Geographic Setting : The Alpine Orogeny

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Richard Mataitis
Earth History
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Geographic Setting

The alpine orogeny is an arcuate mountain chain in Europe that runs across the countries of Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, and Switzerland (Froitzheim et al. 2008) Its length is 1000km, and width falls between 120 and 250km. The Alps are divided into four subdivisions, which include the Central, Southern, Western, and Eastern portions (Figure of map). Two cenozoic basins represent the eastern end of the Alps. The Vienna basin compromises the north while the Styrian basin is in the south, hiding any tectonic units (Froitzheim et al. 2008). East-west orientated valleys that are products of the Tertiary age Periadriatic Fault create the boundary of the Southern Alps from the other subdivisions (Froitzheim et al. 2008). Below the Southern Alps is the Po basin, which is a foreland basin of the Southern Alps. A geographic boundary doesn’t exist between the Southern Alps or the Dinarides, so it is accepted that they are a continuation of the Southern Alps. This is likewise with the Pyrenees south of the Western Alps, and the Jura Mountains North. The north-south orientated fault zone called the Sestri-Voltassio creates the boundary between the Alps system and the Apennines Mountains (Froitzheim et al. 2008). The geographic boundary between the Eastern and Central Alps is drawn from Lake Constance southward to Lake Como. The boundary between the Central and Western Alps is

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