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Structure, paleogeographic inheritance, and deformation history of the southern Atlas foreland fold and thrust belt of Tunisia

Abstract : Structural analysis of the southern Tunisian Atlas was carried out using field observation, seismic interpretation, and cross section balancing. It shows a mix of thick-skinned and thin-skinned tectonics with lateral variations in regional structural geometry and amounts of shortening controlled by NW-SE oblique ramps and tear faults. It confirms the role of the Late Triassic-Early Jurassic rifting inheritance in the structuring of the active foreland fold and thrust belt of the southern Tunisian Atlas, in particular in the development of NW-SE oblique structures such as the Gafsa fault. The Late Triassic-Early Jurassic structural pattern is characterized by a family of first-order NW-SE trending normal faults dipping to the east and by second-order E-W trending normal faults limiting a complex system of grabens and horsts. These faults have been inverted during two contractional tectonic events. The first event occurred between the middle Turonian and the late Maastrichtian and can be correlated with the onset of the convergence between Africa and Eurasia. The second event corresponding to the principal shortening tectonic event in the southern Atlas started in the Serravalian-Tortonian and is still active. During the Neogene, the southern Atlas foreland fold and thrust belt propagated on the evaporitic décollement level infilling the Late Triassic-Early Jurassic rift. The major Eocene "Atlas event," described in hinterland domains and in eastern Tunisia, did not deform significantly the southern Tunisian Atlas, which corresponded in this period to a backbulge broad depozone.
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Aymen Saïd, Patrice Baby, Dominique Chardon, Jamel Ouali. Structure, paleogeographic inheritance, and deformation history of the southern Atlas foreland fold and thrust belt of Tunisia. Tectonics, American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2011, 30, ⟨10.1029/2011TC002862⟩. ⟨insu-03620188⟩

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