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Structural and petrological characteristics of a Jurassic detachment fault from the Mont-Blanc massif (Col du Bonhomme area, France)

Abstract : Necking zones, located between the proximal and distal domains of passive margins, are characterized by important crustal thinning and the occurrence of extensional detachment faults. Here we provide a petrographic, microstructural and geochemical study of an extensional detachment fault discovered in the Mont-Blanc massif, which was located in the necking zone of the European margin during Early Jurassic rifting. The footwall of the fault consists of basement gneisses, while its hanging wall presents pre-to syn-rift deposits. A careful observation of the basement/cover contact also reveals the presence of a strain gradient affecting the Variscan gneisses, which are progressively deformed to cataclasite and to black gouges at the top basement, and sealed by undeformed Jurassic syn-rift sandstones, the Grès Singuliers, which rework fault rock pebbles. Microscale observations also indicate fluid-assisted deformation, characterized by the total breakdown of feldspars and the coeval formation of white mica, leading to strain softening along the fault plane. The overall observations point toward a rift-related detachment fault responsible for the exhumation of the internal Mont-Blanc basement, an interpretation which challenges previous models of crustal exhumation in the External massifs of the Alps. Finally, the preservation of an undeformed syn-rift sedimentary cover sealing a tectonized top basement makes this area a fossil analogue for detachment faults in necking domains. It demonstrates that preservation of pre-Alpine, rift related structures is possible even in highly deformed areas, and emphasizes the role played by pre-Alpine inheritance on the building of the Alpine Mountain belt.
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Submitted on : Friday, May 6, 2022 - 6:22:33 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, June 1, 2022 - 3:55:54 AM

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Nicolas Dall'Asta, Guilhem Hoareau, Gianreto Manatschal, Stephen Centrella, yoann Denèle, et al.. Structural and petrological characteristics of a Jurassic detachment fault from the Mont-Blanc massif (Col du Bonhomme area, France). Journal of Structural Geology, 2022, 159, ⟨10.1016/j.jsg.2022.104593⟩. ⟨insu-03661481⟩

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