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High-resolution imaging of the Pyrenees and Massif Central from the data of the PYROPE and IBERARRAY portable array deployments

Abstract : The lithospheric structures beneath the Pyrenees, which holds the key to settle long-standing controversies regarding the opening of the Bay of Biscay and the formation of the Pyrenees, are still poorly known. The temporary PYROPE and IBERARRAY experiments have recently filled a strong deficit of seismological stations in this part of western Europe, offering a new and unique opportunity to image crustal and mantle structures with unprecedented resolution. Here we report the results of the first tomographic study of the Pyrenees relying on this rich data set. The important aspects of our tomographic study are the precision of both absolute and relative traveltime measurements obtained by a nonlinear simulated annealing waveform fit and the detailed crustal model that has been constructed to compute accurate crustal corrections. Beneath the Massif Central, the most prominent feature is a widespread slow anomaly that reflects a strong thermal anomaly resulting from the thinning of the lithosphere and upwelling of the asthenosphere. Our tomographic images clearly exclude scenarios involving subduction of oceanic lithosphere beneath the Pyrenees. In contrast, they reveal the segmentation of lithospheric structures, mainly by two major lithospheric faults, the Toulouse fault in the central Pyrenees and the Pamplona fault in the western Pyrenees. These inherited Hercynian faults were reactivated during the Cretaceous rifting of the Aquitaine and Iberian margins and during the Cenozoic Alpine convergence. Therefore, the Pyrenees can be seen as resulting from the tectonic inversion of a segmented continental rift that was buried by subduction beneath the European plate.
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Sébastien Chevrot, Antonio Villaseñor, Matthieu Sylvander, Sébastien Benahmed, Eric Beucler, et al.. High-resolution imaging of the Pyrenees and Massif Central from the data of the PYROPE and IBERARRAY portable array deployments. Journal of Geophysical Research, American Geophysical Union, 2014, 119 (8), pp.6399-6420. ⟨10.1002/2014JB010953⟩. ⟨insu-01066009⟩

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