Alpine folded geosynclinal region
ALPINE FOLDED GEOSYNCLINAL REGION (RU: Альпийская складчатая геосинклинальная область), the Alpine-Himalayan folded geosynclinal region, is the youngest part of the Mediterranean geosynclinal belt, which actively developed itself during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic, the movable part of the Earth crust between the continental plates of Eurasia, North Africa, Arabia, and Hindustan, which originally constituted Gondwana.
There preceded the development of the region the extinction of the Paleozoic oceanic basin, namely, the Paleotethys (see the Tethys article) in the Late Paleozoic, with the formation of the Hercynian folded belt. At the end of the Permian and Triassic, the flattened surface of the Hercynian folded complex was covered with the shallow epicontinental sea; only at the east, it is possible, the relics of the Paleotethys have remained. At the end of the Triassic, the faulting of the continental crust and the rifting have started, which have caused the formation of the new deep basin with the oceanic crust, namely, the Neotethys, or the Tethys proper. With respect to the Paleotethys, the Neotethys has appeared shifted to the south and partially superimposed onto the Baikal framing of the Gondwana. Since the late Jurassic, there has started the shrinkage of the area of the Neotethys as the result of the convergence of Africa-Arabia, and later of Hindustan with Eurasia; at the end of the Eocene, the continental blocks of Africa-Arabia and Hindustan have come into the direct contact with Eurasia.
This process was accompanied by the intense folding and thrust deformations with the formation of the large tectonic covers (thrusts), which were shifted mainly to the periphery of the region. In the Oligocene-Miocene, there were involved into the deformation also the deep layers of the crust with the formation of the modern alpine mountain structures (Pyrenees, Andalusian mountains, Er-Rif and Tel-Atlas, Apennines, Alps and Carpathians, Dinaric mountains, Balkans, Caucasus; the mountains of Turkey and Iran, southern Afghanistan, Pakistan; Himalayas). The most intense rise of these mountainous ridges has started in the late Miocene and continues now. At the same time, there proceeded the formation of the deep water basins of the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian (the southern part) seas, and shallower seas, namely, the Adriatic, Aegean, Azov, Caspian (the northern part) and others, foothill and intermountainous downfolds, which are now filled with the products of the destruction of the mountainous structures, and are occupied by the alluvial plains of the Ebro, Guadalquivir, Po, Danube, Kuban, Terek, Rioni, Kura, Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra rivers. The most recent rises were accompanied by the volcanic activity, especially active in the Mediterranean (including the Apennines), Anatolia, Lesser Caucasus, and on the territory of Iran.
There are known, within the limits of the mountainous structures of the Alpine folded geosynclinal region, the numerous deposits of the polymetallic ores (Yugoslavia, Iran, in the USSR, Caucasus), molybdenum, mercury (Spain, Yugoslavia), bauxites (France, Hungary, Greece), within the foothills and intermountainous downfolds, oil and gas (Italy, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Iraq, Iran, in the USSR, Ukraine, North Caucasus, and Transcaucasia) and lignite basins (Turkey, and others).
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