The terms mélange and broken formation have been used in different ways in the literature. The lack of agreement on their definition often leads to confusion and misinterpretations. An evaluation of the various uses of these terms allows us to consider several types of chaotic rock bodies originated by tectonic, sedimentary and diapiric processes in different tectonic settings. Our review of stratal disruption and mixing processes shows that there exists a continuum of deformation structures and processes in the generation of mélanges and broken formations. This continuum is directly controlled by the increase of the degree of consolidation with burial. In tectonically active environments, at the shallow structural levels, the occurrence of poorly consolidated sediments favors gravitational deformation. At deeper structural levels, the deformation related to tectonic forces becomes gradually more significant with depth. Sedimentary (and diapiric) mélanges and broken formations represent the products of punctuated stratal disruption mechanisms recording the instantaneous physical conditions in the geological environment at the time of their formation. The different kinematics, the composition and lithification degree of sediments, the geometry and morphology of the basins, and the mode of failure propagation control the transition between different types of mass-transported chaotic bodies, the style of stratal disruption, and the amount of rock mixing. Tectonically broken formations and mélanges record a continuum of deformation that occurs through time and different degrees of lithification during a progressive increase of the degree of consolidation and of the diagenetic and metamorphic mineral transformation. Systematic documentation of the mechanisms and processes of the formation of different broken formations and mélanges and their interplay in time and space are highly important to increase the understanding of the evolutionary history of accretionary wedges and orogenic belts.
- Broken formations
- Diapiric mélanges
- Mass-transport deposits and processes
- Mélange forming processes
- Stratal disruption and mixing of rocks
- Tectonic and sedimentary mélanges