Cenozoic thick-skinned deformation and topography evolution of the Spanish Central System

G. de Vincente, R. Vegas, A. Munoz Martin, P.G. Silva, P.A.M. Andriessen, S.A.P.L. Cloetingh, J.M. Gonzalez Casado, J.D.A.M. van Wees, J. Alvarez, A. Carbo, A. Olaiz

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    The Spanish Central System is a Cenozoic pop-up with an E-W to NE-SW orientation that affects all the crust (thick-skinned tectonics). It shows antiform geometry in the upper crust with thickening in the lower crust. Together with the Iberian Chain it constitutes the most prominent mountainous structure of the Pyrenean foreland. The evolutionary patterns concerning the paleotopography of the interior of the Peninsula can be established by an analysis of the following data: gravimetric, topographical, macro and micro tectonic, sedimentological (infilling of the sedimentary basins of the relative foreland), P-T-t path from apatite fission tracks, paleoseismic and instrumental seismicity. Deformation is clearly asymmetric in the Central System as evidenced by the existence of an unique, large (crustal-scale) thrust at its southern border, while in the northern one there is a normal sequence of north verging thrusts, towards the Duero Basin, whose activity ended during the Lower Miocene. This deformation was accomplished under triaxial compression, Oligocene-Lower Miocene in age, marked by NW-SE to NNW-SSE shortening. Locally orientations of paleostresses deviate from that of the regional tensor, following a period of relative tectonic quiescence. During the Upper Miocene-Pliocene, a reactivation of constrictive stress occurred and some structures underwent rejuvenation as a consequence of the action of tectonic stresses similar to those of today (uniaxial extension to strike-slip with NW-SE shortening direction). However, the westernmost areas show continuous activity throughout the whole of the Tertiary, with no apparent pulses. At the present time there is a moderate seismic activity in the Central System related to faults that were active during the Cenozoic, with the same kinematic characteristics. © 2007.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)335-382
    JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
    Issue number1-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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