Greywacke zone

The greywacke zone is a band of Paleozoic metamorphosed sedimentary rocks that forms an east-west band through the Austrian Alps.

Geology of the Alps
Tectonic subdivision

Helvetic Zone

Penninic nappes
Austroalpine nappes
Southern Alps
Formations & rocks

Bündner schist | flysch | molasse

Geological structures

Aarmassif | Dent Blanche klippe | Engadine window | Flysch zone | Giudicárie line | Greywacke zone | Hohe Tauern window | Molasse basin | Penninic thrustfront | Periadriatic Seam | Ivrea zone | Lepontin dome | Rechnitz window | Rhône-Simplon line | Sesia unit

Paleogeographic terminology

Valais Ocean

Briançonnais zone
Piemont-Liguria Ocean
Apulian or Adriatic plate

The greywacke zone crops out between the Mesozoic rocks of the Northern Calcareous Alps and the Austroalpine and Penninic basement rocks of the Central Eastern Alps. Stratigraphically, the greywacke zone can be up to 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) thick. The zone is part of the Austroalpine nappes.

Mesozoic limestones crop out north of the greywacke zone, forming the Northern Calcareous Alps. South of the zone, basement rocks of the Austroalpine and Penninic nappes form the Central Eastern Alps.


The lithologies of the greywacke zone are:


The rocks were formed at a passive margin of the Paleo-Tethys Ocean, when the Austroalpine terrain was part of the micro-continent Avalonia. Together with the other Austroalpine units, they were thrusted over the European plate during the Alpine orogeny.


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