Polyphase tectonic evolution of fore‐arc basin related to STEP fault as revealed by seismic reflection data from the Alboran Sea (W‐Mediterranean)

Since the Miocene, the thinned continental crust below the Alboran Sea as well as its overlying sedimentary cover have been undergoing deformation caused by both convergence of Eurasia and Africa and by deep processes related to the Tethyan slab retreat. Part of this deformation is recorded at the Xauen and Tofiño banks in the southern Alboran Sea. Using swath bathymetry and multichannel seismic reflection data, we identified different stages and styles of deformation. The South Alboran Basin is made up of Early Miocene to Pliocene sedimentary layers that correlate with the West Alboran Basin depocenter and are dominated by E‐W trending folds and thrusts. The Xauen and Tofiño Banks first recorded the phase of extension and strike‐slip movement during the slab retreat, followed by the phase of compressional inversion since the Tortonian and are now structured by tight folds, thrusts and mud bodies. This study proposes that the Banks were located on the southern inherited Subduction Tear Edge Propagator (STEP) fault related to the westward migration of the Alboran domain during the Miocene. The STEP fault zone, acting as a boundary between the African block and the Alboran block, was located along the onshore Jebha‐Nekor fault and the offshore Alboran Ridge and the Yusuf fault zone. Thick‐skinned and thin‐skinned shortening occurred when slab retreat stopped, and inversion began. The present‐day style of the deformation seems to be linked to a decollement level made of undercompacted shale on top of the Ghomaride complex.

Key Points

The reactivation of the Subduction Tear Edge Propagator fault zone on the southern edge of the Alboran Domain, forms the South Alboran Ridge

The style of the present‐day structure of the South Alboran region implies an interaction between thick‐skinned and thin‐skinned tectonics

Undercompacted shales and inherited crustal structures are involved in the structural evolution of the South Alboran Basin

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Publication History

Accepted manuscript online: 06 March 2020

Manuscript accepted: 25 February 2020

Manuscript revised: 24 February 2020

Manuscript received: 15 September 2019

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D'Acremont E., Lafosse M., Rabaute A., Teurquety G., Do Couto D., Ercilla G., Juan C., Mercier de Lépinay B., Lafuerza Sara, Galindo‐zaldivar J., Estrada F., Vazquez J.T., Leroy S., Poort J., Ammar A., Gorini C. (2020). Polyphase tectonic evolution of fore‐arc basin related to STEP fault as revealed by seismic reflection data from the Alboran Sea (W‐Mediterranean). Tectonics. 39 (3). e2019TC005885 (25p.). https://doi.org/10.1029/2019TC005885, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00612/72436/

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