Baumann, H., 1981. Regional stress field and rifting in Western Europe. In: J.H. Illies (Editor), Mechanism of Graben Formation. Tectonophysics, 73: 105–111. “In situ” stress determination is one possibility to determine stress magnitudes in the Earth's crust. Most measurements, especially in the northern Alpine foreland, have been carried out by using the doorstopper technique. Stress magnitudes are presented as “excess” stresses. A number of sites, where stresses have been determined, gave sufficiently high values to statistically determine stress directions for the following tectonic blocks: (1) Western Alps; (2) their immediate foreland with the Rhinegraben; and (3) the Rhenish Shield bordering on the rift segment of the Lower Rhine embayment. In discussing results of the statistical analyses of stress data, it is suggested that stresses measured in the Western Alps have mainly a topographic origin. In the Alpine foreland, to the north of the Rhenish Shield, topographic stresses are superimposed on active tectonic stress. Considering the structural and lithological differences, the foreland blocks show a different response to the same tectonic stress field, which trends for σ1at about 146°. This active stress field causes shear rifting in the Upper Rhinegraben, but extensional rifting in the lower Rhine embayment. In the Rhenish Shield area only local step faults are observed in direction of σ1 due to the ductile behaviour of its basement. © 1981, Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company.
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