Flexural behaviour of the north Algerian margin and tectonic implications

Type Article
Date 2015-06
Language English
Author(s) Hamai Lamine1, 2, Petit CaroleORCID1, Abtout Abdeslem2, Yelles-Chaouche Abdelkarim2, Deverchere Jacques3
Affiliation(s) 1 : CNRS UNS IRD, Geoazur, F-06560 Valbonne, France.
2 : Ctr Rech Astron Astrophys & Geophy, Algiers, Algeria.
3 : Technopole Brest Iroise, CNRS UBO, Inst Europ Mer, Domaines Ocean, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
Source Geophysical Journal International (0956-540X) (Oxford Univ Press), 2015-06 , Vol. 201 , N. 3 , P. 1426-1436
DOI 10.1093/gji/ggv098
WOS© Times Cited 16
Keyword(s) Gravity anomalies and Earth structure, Continental margins: convergent, Dynamics of lithosphere and mantle, Lithospheric flexure, Crustal structure

The Algerian margin formed through back-arc opening of the Algerian basin (Mediterranean Sea) resulting from the roll-back of the Tethyan slab. Recent geophysical data acquired along the Algerian margin showed evidence of active or recent compressive deformation in the basin due to the ongoing Africa-Eurasia convergence. Published data from four wide-angle seismic profiles have allowed imaging the deep structure of the Algerian margin and its adjacent basins. In this study, we converted these velocity models into density models, then into isostatic anomalies. This allowed us to image an isostatic disequilibrium (relative to a local isostasy model) reaching a maximum amplitude at the margin toe. Converting isostatic anomalies into Moho depth variations shows that the Moho extracted from wide-angle seismic data is deeper than the one predicted by a local isostasy model in the oceanic domain, and shallower than it in the continental domain. These anomalies can be interpreted by opposite flexures of two plates separated by a plate boundary located close to the margin toe. We use a finite element model to simulate the lithospheric flexure. The amplitude of the equivalent vertical Moho deflection is larger in the central part of the study area (6-7 km) than on the easternmost and westernmost profiles (3 km). The effective elastic thickness used to best match the computed deflection is always extremely low (always less than 10 km) and probably reflects the relatively low strength of the lithosphere close to the plate boundary. Comparison with other wide-angle seismic profiles across an active and a passive margin show that the North Algerian margin displays isostatic anomalies close to that of an active margin. Finally, plate flexure is highest at the southern tip of the ocean-continent transition, possibly indicating that a former passive margin detachment is reactivated as a crustal scale reverse fault pre-dating a future subduction.

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