Prof. Dr. Eline Le Breton
Department of Earth Sciences
Institute of Geological Sciences
Tectonics and Sedimentary Systems
April 2018 - Junior Professor for Tectonophysics at the Freie Universität Berlin
Oct. 2012 - Apr. 2018 - Post Doctoral Research Associate (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiterin) at the Tectonics and Sedimentary Systems Group, Freie Universität Berlin
2011/2012 – Research and Teaching Assistant (ATER) at the University of Rennes 1, France.
2012 – PhD in structural geology and tectonics at the University of Rennes 1, France.
2008 – MSc of Geology at University of Rennes 1, France
At the Freie Universität Berlin (Since Oct. 2012)
- Tectonics of Sedimentary Basins (MSc of Earth Sciences)
- Seminar for current research (MSc of Earth Sciences))
- Introduction to field mapping (BSc of Earth Sciences)
- Field work in the Rheinisches Schiefergebirge, the Erzgebirge, the Armorican Massif and Corsica (BSc and MSc of Earth Sciences)
At the University of Rennes 1 (2008-2012)
- Tectonics (MSc of Earth Sciences)
- Structural Geology (BSc of Life and Earth Sciences)
- Magmatism and Volcanology (BSc of Mechanics, Physics and Chemistry)
- Mapping techniques (BSc of Earth Sciences)
- Geochemistry of stable isotopes (MSc of Earth Sciences)
- Magmatic Petrology (Bachelor of Geology)
- Field work in structural geology, tectonic, metamorphism and geomorphology in the Armorican Massif, the Pyrenees and the Montagne Noire (BSc and MSc of Earth Sciences)
GPlates short course at the University of Parma, Italy, in the framework of an ERASMUS+ Mobility Agreement in June 2019 (Picture: Jessica Ecke)
I am a regional geologist, working on large-scale regions in complex tectonic/geodynamic settings such as the Alpine-Mediterranean area (current projects) where surface, crustal and mantle processes interact. My research focuses on the formation and structural evolution of sedimentary basins, oceans and mountain chains, to better understand the processes that link the motions/deformations of the Earth’s mantle and crust. This involves working on different temporal (Ma – 100s Ma) and spatial (outcrop to plate tectonics) scales and integrating various disciplines of the Earth Sciences, especially field geology, geodesy and geophysics (seismic data).
- Plate tectonics, geodynamics, structural geology
- Plate kinematic reconstructions (using GPlates)
- Structural evolution of sedimentary basins and orogenic belts
- Extension in convergent tectonic settings
Studied areas: Alpine-Mediterranean belts and margins, NW Colombia, NE Atlantic and NW European Continental Margin
- New kinematic reconstructions of the Adriatic Plate as a key to understanding subduction processes in the Western Mediterranean (KAPMED)
Project in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Mark Handy (FU Berlin) and Prof. Kamil Ustaszewski (Jena University), funded by the DFG (first PI)
This project aims to generate new kinematic reconstructions of the Western Mediterranean region, focusing on the motion of the Adriatic microplate (Adria). Adria is entirely surrounded by deformed margins comprising the Alps, Dinarides, Apennines and the Calabrian Arc that form during the Eurasia-Africa convergence. Adria is the indenting upper plate in the Alps, but the lower plate of the Dinarides and Apennines. Moreover, the Apennines have been the site of Oligo-Miocene rollback subduction and pronounced upper-plate extension (Liguro-Provençal and Tyrrhenian basins). Reconstructing the past motion of Adria is therefore key to understand how contrasting orogenic styles develop within the same overall convergent tectonic regime.
Figure 1: Tectonic map of western Mediterranean with main Cenozoic structures and geological-geophysical transects used to reconstruct the post-20 Ma motion path of the Adriatic plate (see Le Breton et al., 2017).
Figure 2: Map-view reconstruction of the motion of tectonic plates and frontal thrusts in the Western Mediterranean since 20 Ma (see Le Breton et al. 2017 and supplementary information for further explanations).
Our Neogene kinematic reconstructions of Adria (Le Breton et al. 2017) incorporates estimates of post-20 Ma shortening and extension in the Apennines, Alps, Dinarides and Sicily Channel Rift Zone and reveals that Adria rotated counterclockwise of c. 5º relative to Europe and translated c. 110 km to the NW as it subducted beneath the European Plate to the west and to the east, while indenting the Alps to the north. Plate convergence exceeds crustal shortening in all orogens surrounding Adria; we attribute this difference to tectonic erosion and crust-mantle decoupling of the Adriatic lithosphere, expressed differently in the three orogens: (1) delamination during rollback in the Apennines, (2) northward motion of the Dacia Unit between the Dinarides and Europe (Moesia), and (3) eastward lateral extrusion of the Tauern window in the Eastern Alps during northward indentation of Adria into Europe.
I have now reconstructed the motion of Adria and the Western-Central Mediterranean/Alpine area back to Triassic time and incorporated my regional model into the latest global plate models of the EarthByte Group, Sydney (Müller et al. 2019). The new version of GPlates (2.1) allows quantitative analyses of continental deformation during rifting and orogenesis (e.g. evolution of crustal thickness through time, stretching/shortening factor, strain rate). In this paper, I have made a deforming mesh that models the Alpine contractional deformation as well as the upper plate extension in the Pannonian Basin and Aegean. I am now working on refining the deforming mesh at more regional scales.
Figure 3: Plate reconstructions for the Triassic to present, showing continents in medium gray, with submerged continental regions (relative to present‐day coastlines) in light gray. Absolute plate velocities in a mantle reference frame are shown as black arrows. Hammer projection. See Müller et al. 2019.
- Linking surface kinematics to deep structure of the Adriatic indenter near a potential subduction-polarity switch – the Giudicarie Belt, southern Alps
PhDs: Vincent Verwarter (FU Berlin) and Azam Jozi Najafabadi (GFZ Potsdam)
Project in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Mark Handy (FU Berlin) and Dr. Christian Haberland (GFZ Potsdam), funded by the DFG (SPP - Mountain building processes in 4D)
This is a seismotectonic study of the Giudicarie Belt (GB), a transverse zone that subdivides the Alps into an eastern part marked by orogen-parallel extrusion of orogenic crust and a western part with well-developed pro- and retro-wedges. Our project tests the idea that Miocene kinematics at the leading edge of the Adriatic indenter is related to a proposed switch in subduction polarity along the Alpine chain as imaged in body-wave tomography, from a SE-dipping slab anomaly in the west to a subvertical to north-dipping anomaly in the east.
Figure 4: (a) P-wave teleseismic tomography map (135–165 km depth range) showing slab anomalies and slab gap beneath the Alps along profile B-B’. Red solid lines - Alpine thrust fronts (AF); red dotted line - Periadriatic Fault (PF); blue dotted line - Giudicarie Fault (GF); (b) Moho map of Spada et al. (2013) showing contours and Moho gap (white). Black lines show controlled-source seismic profiles (ECORS-CROP, NPF-20 West and East, TRANSALP, Alp01, Alp02) and broadband station lines (EASI, CIFALPS); (c) profiles showing +Vp slab anomalies with polarities beneath the Central Alps (A-A’) and Eastern Alps (C-C’) and slab gap beneath GF (B-B’, modified from Lippitsch et al. 2003).
- Extension and reactivation of continental margin during convergence
Both following projects focuses on better understanding the processes generating extensional faulting in compressional regime, more particularly in the foreland area of mountain belts using seismic-reflection data. The first case study is the Upper Austrian Molasse Basin, foreland of the Alps, and the second is the Sicily Channel Rift Zone (extensional rift system between Sicily and Tunisia) and Gela Basin (south of Sicily), southernmost foredeep of the Apennines.
Upper Austrian Molasse Basin
MSc Thesis of Claudia Heismann (FU Berlin), collaboration with Prof. Dr. Anne Bernhardt (FU Berlin) and Rohöl-Aufsuchungs AG (RAG, Austria)
Figure 5: Simplified overview map of the Molasse Basin in Austria. Line B-B’ points out the seismic cross-section where prominent normal faults occur (modified from Masalimova et al. 2015, MSc Thesis of Claudia Heismann, see Heismann et al. 2018 – EGU abstract).
Figure 6: Interpreted North-South seismic-reflection profile B-B' through the study area. Sediments coloured in yellow represent fine-grained material mainly marls and clay (Tonmergel) of Oligocene age. Orange represents Eocene carbonates deposited during Alpine convergence. Green represents Cretaceous siliciclastics. Blue represents Jurassic carbonates of the rifted European continental platform. Colored lines represent normal faults: green, post-NSU faults; yellow, faults offsetting Oligocene strata; orange, faults offsetting Eocene strata; blue, faults offsetting Eocene and Jurassic strata; red, “master” faults offsetting the whole sedimentary sequence pre-NSU. Courtesy of Rohöl-Aufsuchungs AG (RAG).
Sicily Channel Rift Zone and Gela Basin (Italy)
MSc of Jessica Ecke (FU Berlin), collaboration with Dr. Mirko Carlini (Bologna University) and Prof. Dr. Andrea Artoni (Parma University), Student assistent Robert Neumeister (FU Berlin).
Figure 7: Morphological map of the Sicily Channel and surrounding areas. Bathymetry from EMODnet, topography from Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). Location of seismic reflection profiles and wells (VIDEPI Project) used in this project.
- NW Colombia – Formation and evolution of the San Jacinto fold belt and Lower Magdalena Valley basin
PhD of Alejandro Mora (Hocol S.A. Bogotá and GFZ Potsdam)
This project studies the link between forearc basin formation and evolution (detailed tectonostratigraphic analyses of the San Jacinto fold belt and Lower Magdalena Valley Basin in NW Colombia) and specific subduction/collision stages between the Caribbean and South American plates.
Figure 8: Paleotectonic reconstructions at 75, 55, 45, and 35 Ma, illustrating the displacement of the Caribbean Plate relative to fixed South America and the major change in convergence obliquity, which occurred between 55 and 45 Ma (see Mora et al. 2017).
- Differential spreading along the NE Atlantic Ocean and post-breakup deformation of the NW European Margin
During my PhD, I investigated how compressional deformation of the NW European Margin may have resulted from variations in the direction and rate of sea-floor spreading along the various ridges of the NE Atlantic. It involved a new kinematic reconstruction of the complex spreading history of the NE Atlantic and structural analyses along the NW European Margin (Le Breton et al., 2012) and along the Great Glen Fault in Scotland (Le Breton et al., 2013). I discussed in the PhD thesis the effect of mantle plumes (Tristan da Cunha and Iceland) on rifting and spreading processes in the South and NE Atlantic, respectively (see Le Breton 2012).
Figure 9: Map-view reconstruction of the opening of the NE Atlantic, formation of the Jan Mayen Microcontinent (JMMC) and post-breakup deformation along the NW European Continental (in red), red circle represents location of Iceland Mantle Plume head (see Le Breton et al. 2012).
- Post-glacial rebound of Iceland during Holocene time
During my MSc, I studied the combined effects of a ridge and a hotspot on surface deformation processes in Iceland. I mapped paleo-shorelines all around Iceland using digital elevations models, field data and a review of previous studies in order to quantify Holocene vertical displacements of the whole island, with a focus on the post-glacial rebound following the Weichselian glaciation and I discussed its spatial variations in terms of ice unloading and rheology (Le Breton et al., 2010).
Müller R.D., S. Zahirovic, S.E. Williams, J. Cannon, M. Seton, D.J. Bower, M.G. Tetley, C. Heine, E. Le Breton, S. Liu, S.H.J. Russel, T. Yang, J. Leonard and M. Gurnis, 2019. A global plate model including lithospheric deformation along major rifts and orogens since the Triassic. Tectonics, 38. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018TC005462. PDF
Mora J.A., O. Oncken, E. Le Breton, A. Mora, G. Veloza, V. Vélez, M. de Freitas (2018). Controls on forearc basin formation and evolution: Insights from Oligocene to Recent tectono-stratigraphy of the Lower Magdalena Valley basin of northwest Colombia, Marine and Petroleum Geology, 97, 288-310, doi.10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2018.06.032. PDF
Le Breton E., M.R. Handy, G. Molli and K. Ustaszewski (2017). Post-20 Ma motion of the Adriatic plate – new constrains from surroundingorogens and implications for crust-mantle decoupling,Tectonics, doi:10.1002/2016TC004443. PDF
Mora, J.A., O. Oncken, E. Le Breton, M. Ibánez-Mejia, C. Faccenna, G. Veloza, V. Vélez, M. de Freitas and A. Mesa (2017).Linking Late Cretaceous to Eocene Tectono-stratigraphy of the San Jacinto fold belt of NW Colombia with Caribbean plateau collision and flat subduction, Tectonics, 36, doi:10.1002/2017TC004612. PDF
Le Breton E., Cobbold, P.R., Zanella, A.,2013. Cenozoic reactivation of the Great Glen Fault, Scotland: Additional Evidence and Possible Causes. Journal of the Geological Society, London, Vol. 170, pp. 403-415.doi: 10.1144/jgs2012-067. PDF
Le Breton E., Cobbold, P.R., Dauteuil O. and Lewis G., 2012. Variation in amount and direction of sea-floor spreading along the North East Atlantic Ocean and resulting deformation of the continental margin of North West Europe. Tectonics, 31, TC5006, doi:10.1029/2011TC003087. PDF
Auxiliary material for this paper (please cite the paper above when using these data):
- Geographic coordinates of NE Atlantic isochrones and fractures zones PDF
- Plots of restoration of the opening of the NE Atlantic for 13 stages for each restoration, calculation of the G values for the restorations, and tables of the best fit rotation poles and their uncertainties for each spreading system for both models PDF
Le Breton E., Dauteuil O., Biessy G., 2010. Postglacial rebound of Iceland during the Holocene. Journal of the Geological Society, London, Vol 164, pp. 417-432. doi : 10.1144/0016-76492008-126. PDF
Le Breton E. (2019). Kinematics of the Adriatic Plate in Neogene time. AlpArray Meeting - Seismotectonics of the Eastern and Southern Alps and their transition to the Dinarides, Trieste, 8-9 May 2019.
Verwater V., M.R. Handy, E. Le Breton, and V. Picotti (2019), Fault kinematics along the orogenic front of the Eastern Southern Alps. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 21, EGU2019-15871, EGU General Assembly 2019.
Zahirovic S., R.D. Müller, S.E. Williams, J. Cannon, M. Seton, D.J. Bower, M.G. Tetley, C. Heine, E. Le Breton, S. Liu, S.H.J. Russel, T. Yang, J. Leonard and M. Gurnis, 2019. Next-generation surface kinematic constraints for geodynamic models. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 21, EGU2019-15244-1, EGU General Assembly 2019.
Le Breton E., K. Ustaszewski, D.R. Müller, and S.H.J. Russel (2019). Plate motion model of Western and Central Mediterranean-Alpine area since 200 Ma. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 21, EGU2019-14720, EGU General Assembly 2019.
Müller R.D., S. Zahirovic, S.E. Williams, J. Cannon, M. Seton, D.J. Bower, M.G. Tetley, C. Heine, E. Le Breton, S. Liu, S.H.J. Russel, T. Yang, J. Leonard and M. Gurnis, 2019. A global plate model including lithospheric deformation along major rifts and orogens for the last 240 million years. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 21, EGU2019-14273, EGU General Assembly 2019.
Grund M.U., J. Giese, S. Zertani, M.R. Handy, J. Pleuger, E. Le Breton, and K. Onuzi (2019). Faulting, cooling and exhumation in the footwall of the Shkoder-Peja Normal Fault (Dinaric-Hellenic junction) and its relation to the western Kosovo basin. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 21, EGU2019-8549, EGU General Assembly 2019.
Heismann C., E. Le Breton and A. Bernhardt (2018). Extension in a compressional regime: Structural analysis of normal faulting at the basal part of the Molasse foreland basin, Austria. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 20, EGU2018-9093, EGU General Assembly 2018.
Navabpour, P., J. Kley, E. Le Breton, D.J.J. van Hinsbergen and K. Ustaszewski (2017). Does intraplate brittle deformation indicate far-field stress signals? A case study of Central Europe. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 19, EGU2017-4170, EGU General Assembly 2017.
E. Le Breton, M.R. Handy, G. Molli and K. Ustaszewski (2017). New constraints on Neogene counter-clockwise rotation of Adria relative to Europe. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 19, EGU2017-15437, EGU General Assembly 2017.
Ustaszewski K., E. Le Breton, P. Balling, M.R. Handy, G. Molli and B. Tomljenović (2017). One microplate – three orogens: alps, Dinarides, Apennines and the role of the Adriatic plate. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 19, EGU2017-16444, EGU General Assembly 2017.
Handy M.R., E. Kissling, W. Spakman, K. Ustaszewski, E. Le Breton and J. Giese (2017). Crust-mantle decoupling in the Alps, Carpathians, Dinarides and Hellenides – the next targets of AlpArray?Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 19, EGU2017-18044, EGU General Assembly 2017.
E. Le Breton and M.R. Handy (2016). New constraints on post-20 Ma counter-clockwise rotation of Adria relative to Europe. GeoTirol 2016, Innsbruck, Austria.
Handy M.R., B. Fügenschuh, J. Giese, E. Le Breton, B. Muceku, K. Onuzi, J. Pleuger, S.M. Schmid and K. Ustaszewski (2015). Orogen-parallel and -normal extension at the Dinarides-Hellenides junction during clockwise rotation and radial expansion of the retreating Hellenic arc-trench system. AGU 2015-T23F-06, 2015 AGU Fall Meeting.
Le Breton E., M.R. Handy and K. Ustaszewski (2015). Balancing shortening and extension around the Adriatic Plate to constrain its independent motion and driving forces since Late Cretaceous time. AGU 2015-T13B-2983, 2015 AGU Fall Meeting.
Handy M.R., S. Cionoiu, J. Giese, P. Groß, E. Le Breton, K. Onuzi, J. Pleuger, S.M. Schmid, K. Ustaszewski and S. Zertani (2015): Overlapping orogen-parallel and orogen-normal extension (Northern Albania) related to ongoing clockwise rotation at the junction of the Dinarides and Hellenides. GeoBerlin 2015, Berlin, Germany.
Le Breton E., M.R. Handy and K. Ustaszewski (2015). Kinematic reconstructions and possible driving forces of the Adriatic microplate. GeoBerlin 2015, Berlin, Germany.
Groß P., S. Zertani, S. Cionoiu, C. Deutsch, S. Evseev, D. Wanneck, J. Giese, E. Le Breton, M.R. Handy, K. Onuzi, J. Pleuger, K. Ustaszewski, (2014). A new 1:10,000 geological map of the Skutari-Pec Normal Fault and surroundings, northern Albania – evidence of orogen-parallel extension. XX Congress of the Carpathian Balkan geological Association, CBGA 2014, Tirana, Albania.
Handy M.R., S.R. Schmid, E. Le Breton, J. Giese, K. Onuzi, J. Pleuger, K. Ustaszewski, S. Cionoiu, C. Deutsch, S. Evseev, P. Groß, D. Wannek, S. Zertani, 2014. Tectonics of rotation at the western end of the Skutari-Pec Normal Fault (SPNF). XX Congress of the Carpathian Balkan geological Association, CBGA 2014, Tirana, Albania.
Le Breton E. and M.R. Handy (2014). Kinematic reconstructions of the Western Mediterranean area – a key to understanding the independent motion of the Adriatic microplate. 15th Symposium on Tectonics, Structural Geology and Geology of Crystalline Rocks, TSK15 Potsdam 2014.
Wanneck D., P. Groß, S. Cionoiu, C. Deutsch, S. Evseev, S. Zertani, J. Giese, E. Le Breton, M.R. Handy, K. Onuzi, J. Pleuger and K. Ustaszewski (2014). A new 1:10,000 geological map of the Skutari-Pec Fault and surroundings, northern Albania – evidence of orogen-parallel extension. 15th Symposium on Tectonics, Structural Geology and Geology of Crystalline Rocks, TSK15 Potsdam 2014.
Zertani S., S. Cionoiu, C. Deutsch, S. Evseev, P. Groß, D. Wanneck, M.R. Handy, K. Ustaszewski, J. Giese, E. Le Breton, J. Pleuger and K. Onuzi (2014). Structure and Kinematics of the Skutari-Pec-Fault in northern Albania. 15th Symposium on Tectonics, Structural Geology and Geology of Crystalline Rocks, TSK15 Potsdam 2014.
Le Breton E. and M.R. Handy (2013). Evaluating kinematic reconstructions of deformable and independent microplates - the example of the Western Mediterranean – Alpine system. 2013 AGU Fall Meeting.
Le Breton E., P.R. Cobbold and O. Dauteuil (2012). Differential sea-floor spreading along the NE Atlantic ridge system and resulting deformation of the NW European Margin. Onshore-Offshore relationship on the North Atlantic Margin, Trondheim, 2012.
Le Breton E., P.R. Cobbold and O. Dauteuil (2012). Palinspastic reconstruction of the opening of the NE Atlantic: differential sea-floor spreading and resulting deformation of the NW European Margin. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 14, EGU2012-7354. EGU General Assembly 2012.
Le Breton E., P.R. Cobbold and A. Zanella (2012). Cenozoic right-lateral slip on the Great Glen Fault, Scotland: Additional Evidence and Possible Causes. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 14, EGU2012-3543-1. EGU General Assembly 2012.
Le Breton E., P.R. Cobbold, P. Roperch and O. Dauteuil (2011). Ridge-plume interaction and differential spreading along the northern North Atlantic ridge and resulting Cenozoic compressional deformation of the NE Atlantic margin. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 13, EGU2011-6001. EGU General Assembly 2011.
Le Breton E., P.R. Cobbold, P. Roperch and O. Dauteuil (2010). Differential spreading along the northern North Atlantic ridge and resulting intraplate deformation of the adjacent continental margins. 2010 AGU Fall Meeting.
Le Breton E., P.R. Cobbold, P. Roperch and O. Dauteuil (2010). Differential seafloor spreading of the North Atlantic and consequent deformation of adjacent continental margins. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 12, EGU2010-4132. EGU General Assembly 2010.
Le Breton E., O.Dauteuil and G. Biessy (2010). Post-glacial rebound of Iceland during the Holocene. Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 12, EGU2010-3543. EGU General Assembly 2010.