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Structural record of Lower Miocene westward motion of the Alboran Domain in the Western Betics, Spain

Abstract : In the framework of the Africa-Europe convergence, the Mediterranean system presents a complex interaction between subduction rollback and upper-plate deformation during the Tertiary. The western end of the system shows a narrow arcuate geometry across the Gibraltar arc, the Betic-Rif belt, in which the relationship between slab dynamics and surface tectonics is not well understood. The present study focuses on the Western Betics, which is characterized by two major thrusts: 1/ the Internal/External Zone Boundary limits the metamorphic domain (Alboran Domain) from the fold-and-thrust belts in the External Zone; 2/ the Ronda Peridotites Thrust allows the juxtaposition of a strongly attenuated lithosphere section with large bodies of sub-continental mantle rocks on top of upper crustal rocks. New structural data show that two major E-W strike-slip corridors played a major role in the deformation pattern of the Alboran Domain, in which E-W dextral strike-slip faults, N60 thrusts and N140 normal faults developed simultaneously during dextral strike-slip simple shear. Olistostromic sediments of Lower Miocene age were deposited and deformed in this tectonic context and hence provide an age estimate for the inferred continuous westward translation of the Alboran Domain that is accommodated by an E-W lateral (strike-slip) ramp and a N60 frontal thrust. The crustal emplacement of large bodies of sub-continental mantle may occur at the onset of this westward thrusting in the Western Alboran domain. At lithosphere-scale, we interpret the observed deformation pattern as the subduction upper-plate expression of a lateral slab tear and its westward propagation since Lower Miocene.
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Gianluca Frasca, Frédéric Gueydan, Jean-Pierre Brun. Structural record of Lower Miocene westward motion of the Alboran Domain in the Western Betics, Spain. Tectonophysics, Elsevier, 2015, 657, pp.1-20. ⟨10.1016/j.tecto.2015.05.017⟩. ⟨insu-01163695⟩

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