Recent tectonic stress and crustal deformation in and around the Pannonian Basin: data and models

P. Gerner*, G. Bada, P. Dövényi, B. Müller, M. C. Oncescu, S. Cloetingh, F. Horváth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Recent (active) tectonics of the Pannonian Basin and its surrounding has been investigated using data from over 900 earthquake focal mechanism solutions, 200 borehole breakout analyses, some in-situ stress measurements and by applying finite element modelling technique. We have established a database for indicators of recent stress, and analysed the stress state of the region by the methods of the World Stress Map project. The alignments of the largest horizontal stresses have been mapped and the tectonic regimes were also determined. We present a map of seismoactive faults and seismic energy release combining historical and modern seismicity data and results of local seismotectonic studies. The pattern of earthquake slip vectors and the style of faulting are summarised in order to characterise the active deformations. Our results show that the alignment of the largest horizontal stress exhibits a radial pattern around the Adriatic sea. In the Southern Alps and northwestern Dinarides the largest horizontal stress (SH) is aligned N-S and thrust faulting is dominant. Along the southern Dinarides and the Dalmatian coast thrusting with strike-slip component can be observed. Here the trajectories of SH are aligned NE-SW. E-W aligned SH trajectories and normal faulting are characteristic of the Rhodope Massif. Thrust faulting of the Vrancea region seems to be distinct from the compressive regime around the Adriatic sea. In the Pannonian Basin borehole breakout analyses show that the direction of largest horizontal stress is changing from N-S in the western part to NE-SW in the east. Most of focal mechanisms and available hydraulic fracturing measurements indicate strike-slip and thrust faulting inside the basin. The lack of normal faulting mechanisms indicates that the extension of the basin has been terminated and a new compressive stress regime prevails. The crustal deformation of the area is controlled by the counterclockwise rotation of Adria with respect to Europe around a pole at the 45°N latitude and 6-10°E longitudes, which is inferred from satellite geodesy and supported by earthquake slip vectors. This movement can explain the shortening of the Southern Alps, and squeezing eastward the region between the Adriatic sea and the Mur-Murz line. Rotation of Adria generates thrusts along the Dalmatian coast, and this compressive deformation extends into the land far from the coastline, and leads to squeezing of the Pannonian Basin from the southwest. The seismicity pattern in the Pannonian Basin shows that earthquakes are restricted to the crust and the control by pre-existing (mostly Miocene) fault zones is strongly masked by random activity due to general weakness of the lithosphere. Although earthquakes are of small to medium magnitude (M≤6), the cummulative energy release is remarkably higher than in the surrounding Carpathian arc. The Vrancea zone is the only exception, where high energy release in the crust and down to 200 km depth is associated with a relict subducted slab. Finite element stress modelling has been performed in order to simulate the observed stress pattern and, hence, to understand the importance of different possible stress sources in and around the Pannonian Basin. The observed radial stress pattern of the region can be well explained by the counterclockwise rotation of the Adriatic microplate as a first-order stress source. Additional boundary conditions, such as the active deformation at the Vranceas zone and the role of rigid crustal blocks at the Bohemian Massif and the Moesian Platform, can significantly effect the style of deformation and the alignment of the largest horizontal stress. Furthermore, our calculations show that differences in the crustal thickness and the presence of large scale fault zones in the Pannonian region have only local influence on the model results.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Mediterranean Basins
Subtitle of host publicationTertiary Extension within the Alpine Orogen
EditorsBernard Durand, Laurent Jolivet, Frank Horváth, Michel Séranne
PublisherGeological Society of London
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999

Publication series

NameGeological Society Special Publication
PublisherGeological Society of London
ISSN (Print)0305-8719


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