Alpine Stress: Active Tectonics and Recent Stress at the Front of the Eastern Alps

2017-2019: funded by RAG Austria and  FFG

Principal Investigator:

Kurt Decker (University of Vienna)


Nicola Levi (University of Vienna)

Mario Habermüller (University of Vienna)



This project focuses on the analysis of the current geodynamics in the northern Eastern Alps and their foreland by investigating recent stresses and active deformation at the leading edge of the Alpine fold-thrust belt.
Active deformation in the Alps results from the convergence between the European and Adriatic plates, which amounts to about 2 to 5 mm/year.
While the processes compensating shortening in the southern Alps (fold-thrusting and strike-slip faulting) and the central Alps (lateral extrusion, strike-slip and normal faulting) are fairly well known, no information is available from the northern part of the Alps and their foreland although seismicity and offset Quaternary sediments prove that the area is subjected to active deformation.

A number of questions is addressed by analyzing tectonic geomorphology, faulted Quaternary sediments, earthquake data and the recent stress field from well logs:
(1) detect active crustal movements
(2) analyze stress directions, stress magnitudes and stress regimes from well logs
(3) identify stress coupling or stress partitioning between the main geological units of the frontal Alps
(4) identify active and critically stressed faults based on the novel stress data and the correlation of earthquake hypocenters with fault locations