Present-day stress field and tectonic inversion in the Pannonian basin

Gábor Bada, Frank Horváth, Péter Dövényi, Péter Szafián, Gábor Windhoffer, Sierd Cloetingh

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This paper presents a latest compilation of data on the present-day stress pattern in the Pannonian basin, and its tectonic environment, the Alpine-Dinaric orogens. Extensional formation of the basin system commenced in the early Miocene, whereas its structural reactivation, in the form of gradual basin inversion, has been taking place since Pliocene to recent times. Reconstructed compression and associated horizontal contraction are mainly governed by the convergence between Adria and its buffer, the Alpine belt of orogens. The resulting contemporaneous stress field exhibits important lateral variation resulting in a complex pattern of ongoing tectonic activity. In the Friuli zone of the Southern Alps, where thrust faulting prevails, compression is orthogonal to the strike of the mountain belt. More to the southeast, intense contraction is combined with active strike-slip faulting constituting the dextral Dinaric transpressional corridor. Stresses are transferred far from Adria into the Pannonian basin, and the dominant style of deformation gradually changes from pure contraction through transpression to strike-slip faulting. The importance of late-stage inversion in the Pannonian basin is interpreted in a more general context of structural reactivation of back-arc basins where the sources of compression driving basin inversion are also identified and discussed. The state of recent stress and deformation in the Pannonian basin, particularly in its western and southern part, is governed by the complex interaction of plate boundary and intra-plate forces. The counterclockwise rotation and north-northeast-directed indentation of the Adriatic microplate appears to be of key importance as the dominant source of compression ("Adria-push"). Intra-plate stress sources, such as buoyancy forces associated with an elevated topography, and crustal as well as lithospheric inhomogeneities can also play essential, yet rather local role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-180
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2007



  • Pannonian basin
  • basin inversion
  • neotectonics
  • stress field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Oceanography

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