Paleogene evolution of the External Rif Zone (Morocco) and comparison with other western Tethyan margins
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Foreland basin systemTectono-sedimentary evolutionPaleogeneWestern External RifNorthwestern African marginWestern Tethys margins
M. Martín-Martín, F. Guerrera, J.C. Cañaveras et al. Paleogene evolution of the External Rif Zone (Morocco) and comparison with other western Tethyan margins. Sedimentary Geology 448 (2023) 106367[ https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sedgeo.2023.106367]
SponsorshipPID2020-114381GB-I00 research project (Spanish Ministry of Education and Science).
The Paleogene evolution of theNWmargin of the African Plate (Western External Rif Zone)was studied by means of multidisciplinary analyses of twenty-one stratigraphic logs, including tectofacies recognition, petro-mineralogical results, and thicknesses analysis. Four stratigraphic intervals were recognized separated by three unconformities coarsely aligned with the Cretaceous–Paleogene, Eocene–Oligocene and Oligocene–Miocene boundaries, respectively. Tectofacies appear from the late Ypresian being more frequents from the Oligocene as the tectonic activity increases. The petrology of detrital suites indicates recycled orogen-derived sediments, with quartz supplied from metamorphic rocks of the Atlas orogen and/or the African craton. On the basis ofMesozoic claymineral assemblages reported in the literature, the clay mineralogy of mudstones suggests upper Jurassic to upper Cretaceous terrains from the Internal Intrarif as the main source area of the Paleocene–Eocene successions, with sediment provenance reversion during the Oligocene and additional contribution of Paleocene to lower Eocene suites. The different displacement capability of the identified aluminic-magnesic claymineralogy enabled to deduce the relative proximity of the source area. These findings point out a complex sedimentary evolution characterized by a mixture of different lithotypes dating back to upper Jurassic. X-ray parameters helped to identify evidences of synsedimentary tectonics overprinting the inheritedmineralogy during some periods with weak burial diagenesis at most. During the Paleogene a foreland basin is formed mainly in theMesorif and Prerif sub-domains. This foredeep was represented by two ‘sub-geosynclines’ separated by a relative bulge located in the ExternalMesorif. The Internal Intrarif could represent the relative orogenic front, advancing on the External Intrarif. The Eocene forebulge was located in the Ridges Domain, while the Gharb Basin was the backbulge of the system. During the Oligocene the depocentral area migrated southward and a homogeneization of thicknesses took also place in thewholemargin. In this newconfiguration, the foredeep would be located in the External Mesorif (previously a relative bulge) while the Ridges Domain and the Gharb Basin continued to act as the systemforebulge and backbulge, respectively. A comparisonwith the Paleogene evolution of otherwestern Tethys externalmargins (Betic Chain, Tunisian Tell, SicilianMaghrebids, and Apennines) has revealed more similarities than differences. The effects of the Eo-Alpine tectonics are recognized everywhere even if they decrease both from N to S, and fromWto E in the different considered margins. The evolution of the compared margins shows a common pre-foredeed (Paleocene-Eocene) and beginning of foredeep (Oligocene) stages in the foreland basins.