The Westernmost Tethys Blog Geology mapping, basin analysis and 3D modeling


Tectono-sedimentary Cenozoic evolution of the El Habt and Ouezzane Tectonic Units (External Rif, Morocco)

Filed under: geodynamic evolution,Morocco — Tags: , , — messinianalicante @ 7:41 AM

An interdisciplinary study based on lithostratigraphic, biostratigraphic, petrographic and mineralogical analyses has been performed in order to stablish the Cenozoic tectono-sedimentary evolution of the El Habt and Ouezzane Tectonic Units (Intrarif Subzone, External Rif, Morocco). The reconstructed record allowed identification of the depositional architecture and related sedimentary processes of the considered units. The Cenozoic successions were bio-chronologically defined allowing, at the same time, identification of unconformities and associated stratigraphic gaps.

Stratigraphic architecture of the Cenozoic of the El Habt and Ouezzane Units. The arrangement of the studied Logs and correlation with the timetable reflects the supposed paleogeographic position from proximal to distal. In addition, depositional sequences, unconformities, gaps (erosive and depositional), sedimentary realms and tectonic phases are shown.

The presence of five unconformities allowed to define the main stratigraphic units arranged in a regressive trend: (1) lower Paleocene interval (Danian p.p.) assigned to a deep basin; (2) Eocene interval (lower Ypresian-lower Bartonian p.p.) from a deep basin to an external carbonate-siliceous platform; (3) lower Rupelian-upper Chattian p.p. interval deposited on unstable slope with turbidite channels passing upward to an external siliciclastic platform; (4) Burdigalian p.p. interval from a slope; (5) Langhian-Serravallian p.p. interval from slope to external platform realms. The petrography of the arenites and calcarenites allowed to identify supplies derived from erosion of a recycled orogen (transitional and quartzose sub-types).


Qm/F/Lt + CE ternary diagram indicating a discrimination of the sandstones’ provenance. Qm: monocrystalline quartz; F: feldspars (plagioclase and K-feldspars); Lt + CE: lithic fragments including carbonate extrabasinal clasts.


The clay-mineralogy analysis indicates an unroofing (first erosion of Cretaceous terrains followed by upper Jurassic rocks) always accomplished by erosion of Cenozoic terrains. Several tectofacies checked in some stratigraphic intervals seems to indicate the beginning of deformation of the basement generating gentle folds and first activation of blind thrusts, mainly during the Paleogene. A pre-orogenic tectonic framework is considered as risponse to the generalized tectonic inversion (from extension to compression) as frequently registered in the central-western peri-Mediterranean areas. The large volumes of reworked terrigeneous supply during the latest Oligocene-Miocene p.p. indicates the beginnigs of the syn-orogenic sedimentation (foredeep stage of the basins) controlled by active tectonics.

Cites as: Martín-Martín, M., Guerrera, F., Hlila, R., Maaté, A., Maaté, S., Tramontana, M., Serrano, F., Cañaveras, J.C., Alcalá, F.J., Paton, D., 2020. Tectono-Sedimentary Cenozoic Evolution of the El Habt and Ouezzane Tectonic Units (External Rif, Morocco). Geosciences. 2020; 10(12):487..


Middle Eocene carbonate platforms of the westernmost Tethys

A study of the paleoenvironmental evolution of the middle Eocene platforms recognized in the westernmost Tethys has been carried out in the well exposed middle Eocene succession from Sierra Espuña-Mula basin (Betic Cordillera, S Spain). Eight microfacies (Mf1 to Mf8) have been recognized, based mainly on fossil assemblages (principally larger benthic foraminifera), and rock texture and fabric.

Environmental microfacies distribution for the Middle Eocene marine Depositional Sequence 2 (Malvariche andCánovas fms) in Sierra Espuña, arranged from proximal to distal depositional environments: Mf3, Inner ramp lagoon, upper subtidal environment; Mf5, Inner ramp seagrass, euphotic subtidal environment; Mf6 – Mf7, Inner ramp, euphotic lower subtidal environment; Mf2, Proximal middle ramp LBF accumulations (nummulitids), mesophotic environment; Mf1, Proximal middle ramp maërl, mesophotic environment; Mf8, Distal middle ramp LBF accumulations (orthophragminids), mesophotic environment; Mf4, Outer ramp lacking Large Bethic Foraminifera (LBF), oligophotic environment. Ramp subdivision is based on Burchette and Wright (1992), and photic zones are analogous to those described by Pomar et al. (2017), with a ‘mesophotic zone’ comprised between lower limit of occurrence of marine vegetation and the storm wave base (swb).


The fossiliferous assemblage can be asigned to the ‘subtropical’ heterozoan association or to the low-latitude ‘foralgal facies’ , which are dominated by non-framework building, light-dependent biota such as perforate larger benthic foraminifera, coralline algae, and sometimes green algae and solitary corals. Larger benthic foraminifer assemblages, corresponding from euphotic to oligophotic conditions and the large surface showed, suggest a progressive marine ramp under essentially oligotrophic conditions. Eventually, supply of detrital sediments from the continent and/or upwelling currents increasse the nutrients of marine waters. Comparision with other Tethyan sectors allows stating that coral-reef buildups (z-corals) were widespread on shallow platforms of the central and eastern Tethys Ocean, but that these were neither of great dimensions nor dominant because of the much more dominant presence of larger benthic foraminifera. Moreover, these coral constructions were completely absents in the westernmost Tethys. The dominance of larger benthic foraminifera and the absence of z-corals in the westernmost Tethys is explained by particular paleogeographic features due to the occurrence of a narrow and deep oceanic branch (i.e., the Maghrebian Flysch Basin) connecting the Tethys with the Atlantic Ocean.

Biochronostratigraphic chart with numerical time scale, magnetochrons, magnetic polarity, planktonic foraminifera and calcareous nannoplankton zones based on GTS 2012 (Gradstein and Ogg, 2012), correlated with shallow benthic zones (SBZ). Interpretations of main climatic events, trophic resources continuum, LBF specific diversity and coral events in the Tethyan domain are also represented. A synthetic column with the stratigraphic formations and the main trophic conditions and Large Bethic Foraminifera (LBF) and coral (*) events of the Sierra Espuña-Mula Basins are also included.

The various issues regarding the morphological characters and evolution of larger benthic foraminifera in the study area, such as sizes of tests, specific diversity and/or intraspecific variability, number of appearances and last occurrences during the middle Eocene are analyzed and compared with those appearing in other Tethyan sectors. In addition, the early to late Bartonian boundary is recognized in the study area as critical for the biological change as in other shallow-marine environments along the Tethys margins.

Cite as: Martín-Martín, M., Guerrera, F., Tosquella, J., Tramontana, M., 2021. Middle Eocene carbonate platforms of the westernmost Tethys. Sediment. Geol. 415, 105861. doi:10.1016/j.sedgeo.2021.105861



Sedimentary History and Palaeogeography of the Cenozoic clastic wedges of the Malaguide Complex, Internal Betic Cordillera, Southern Spain

Filed under: Betics,geodynamic evolution — Tags: , , , , , — messinianalicante @ 8:59 PM

The Cenozoic sedimentary cover of the Malaguide Complex (Internal Betic Cordillera, Spain), in the Almería and Málaga areas, consists of a suite of sedimentary successions from continental and shallow-marine to deep-marine environments. Structural and stratigraphic relations, and petrological and geochemical signatures reveal the sedimentary evolution of the Cenozoic Malaguide Complex (CMC) from pre-orogenic (Palocene-Eocene) to syn-orogenic (Oligocene-Early Miocene) stages.

Figure 1. A, Geological sketch map of the Betic Cordillera. B, Paleogeographic reconstruction of the central-western Mediterranean area showing the position of the Mesomediterranean Microplate. C, The Internal Zones of others alpine chains of the Circum-Mediterranean belts (i.e. Rif, Tell, Calabria-Peloritani and Apennine chains). Modified from Martín-Algarra (1987), Guerrera et al. (1993, 2005), Perrone et al. (2006), Critelli et al. (2008), Perri et al. (2013).

Sandstones detrital modes of the overall succession are heterogeneous testifying to a multi-source area, marked by exhumation of the Malaguide basement terranes and of the Internal Betic Zone (Alpujárride Complex) in lower position. Pre-orogenic and syn-orogenic strata consist of four main depositional sequences: the Mula Group (Paleocene), the Xiquena Group (Eocene) for the preorogenic successions; and Ciudad Granada Group (Oligocene-Aquitanian) and Viñuela Group (Burdigalian) for the synorogenic successions. Pre-orogenic strata evolve from intra-arenite to hybrid arenites to progressive increase of sandstones in abundance of detrital supply from sedimentary cover of the internal Betic units. The unroofing history of the internal Betic Units, predominantly in the Malaguide Complex, is clearly testified in strata of the synorogenic clastic units, where detrital supply is coming from the Malaguide Complex. Sedimentary lithic fragments were derived from the Mesozoic strata of the Malaguide Complex while metamorphic detritus is related to the Internal Betic Zone basement that was exhumed starting from the Oligocene. Pre-orogenic mudrocks mainly show abundance of calcite and dolomite over quartz and phyllosilicates. Syn-orogenic mudrocks, record an abrupt decrease in calcite and dolomite and an increase of phyllosilicate, quartz and feldspars mainly in the Malaga section. The geochemical signatures attest to a compositional variation of the samples from pre-to-synorogenic successions, with palaeoweathering indices showing moderate values and a weak up-section decrease. The Cenozoic Malaguide Complex played a key role in the geodynamic evolution of the Betic Cordillera, representing the key tectonic element of the western Mesomediterranean domains.


Figure 2 Mineralogical variations along the studied stratigraphic formations.

Cite as: Critelli, S., Martín-Martín, M., Capobianco, W., Perri, F., 2021. Sedimentary history and palaeogeography of the Cenozoic clastic wedges of the Malaguide Complex, Internal Betic Cordillera, southern Spain. Mar. Pet. Geol. 124, 104775.



Visiting the Monduver geologic dome

Filed under: Betics — Tags: , — messinianalicante @ 7:39 AM

Students of the third course of Geology of the Alicante University within the subject of Regional Geology: visit Jarafuel triassic section, Montealegre del Castillo triassic section, Sot de Chera Jurassic section, Valencia Albufera, and Monduver geologic dome.

The dome was investigated during the 70s as was drilled by the Jaraco borehole.

Alicante University students at the Moduver mountain. At the back the Cullera city.


Mula field work

Filed under: Betics — Tags: , , — messinianalicante @ 11:30 AM

Students of the third course of Geology of the Alicante University within the subject of Mapping 2: visit North of Mula village. Working in the Malaguide complex non-metamorphic rocks.

The visit took place from October 21th until 24th of 2020 and the professor in charge was Manuel Martín-Martín.

Students of the Alicante University Geology Degree at Mula (Murcia) during the Covid-19 pandemic 2020.


The Huelva Group: Josep Tosquella

Filed under: Team — Tags: , — messinianalicante @ 10:52 AM

Josep Tosquella Angrill graduated in Geological Sciences in 1985 from the University of Barcelona. He obtained his doctorate from the University of Barcelona in 1995, having studied the Nummulitinae of the Paleocene-Early Eocene of the south-Pyrenean Basin. Their teaching history begins at the Faculty of Geology of the University of Barcelona as Assistant Professor LRU (1990-1998). From 1999 to 2001 teach as a Full-time Associate Professor in the Department of Geology of the Faculty of Experimental Sciences of the University of Huelva, and on October 17 of 2001 he take part as Full University Professor at this University at the Department of Earth Sciences (Palaeontology area). His recent research activity is mainly focused on the following lines: a) Large Benthic Foraminifera (Nummulitids) in the Cenozoic sediments of the Pyrenean, Betic and Vasco-Cantabrian areas: Systematics, Paleoecology, Paleobiogeography, Biochronostratigraphy and usefulness in Intercontinental Stratigraphic Correlations, and b) Geoarchaeology of the Tinto-Odiel Estuary (Huelva, SW Spain): Morphosedimentary evolution and peopling.

Recent papers:

Nummulites catari. Tosquella y Serra-Kiel, 1998 Reference: TOSQUELLA, J., SERRA-KIEL, J., 1998. Nummulites catari: a new species from the late Paleocene of the Pyrenean basin. In HOTTINGER, L. & DROBNE, K. (Eds.): Paleogene shallow benthos of the Tethys, vol. IV, 34/2, 165-171, Dela-Opera SAZU, Ljubljana.


The Granada Group: Antonio Sánchez-Navas

Filed under: Team — Tags: , — messinianalicante @ 6:42 AM

Antonio Sánchez-Navas has been doing research in the fields of crystallography, mineralogy and petrology. The publication list of mineralogy includes papers in American Mineralogist, European Journal of Mineralogy, Canadian Mineralogist y Clays and Clay minerals. His research activities focussed on the field of crystallography have been published in Crystal Growth and Design and Journal of Crystal Growth. Publications about geochemistry include papers in important international journals as Geochimica et Cosmochimica y Chemical Geology; about Geology, in journals as Geology, Journal of Geology, Journal of Metamorphic Geology and Terranova; about sedimentology in Sedimentology; about environmental sciences and cultural heritage in Journal of Geophysical Research, Atmospheric Environment, Geoderma, Archaeometry and Journal of Cultural Heritage. He has worked as scientific and technical advisor of the Scientific Instrumentation Center of the University of Granada (1989-present). Among the works carried out, it is worth mentioning the development of the backscattered electron diffraction (EBSD) for the textural analysis of geological materials in our laboratories.

López-Quirós, A., Sánchez-Navas, A., Nieto, F.,  Escutia C. (2020): New insights into the nature of glauconite. American Mineralogist, 105, 674-686.

Chen, X. Y.,  Teng, F. Z., Sanchez, W. R., Romanek, C. S., Sanchez-Navas, A., Sánchez-Román, M.(2020): Experimental constraints on magnesium isotope fractionation during abiogenic calcite precipitation at room temperature. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 281, 102-117.

López-Quirós, A., Escutia, C., Sánchez-Navas, A.,  Nieto, F.,  Garcia-Casco, A., Martín-Algarra, A., Evangelinos, D.,  Salabarna, A. (2019) Glaucony authigenesis, maturity and alteration in the Weddell Sea: An indicator of paleoenvironmental conditions before the onset of Antarctic glaciation. Scientific Reports 9:13580.  

Hernández-Laguna, A., Pérez del Valle, C., Hernández-Haro, N.,  Ortega-Castro, J., Muñoz-Santiburcio, D., Vidal, I., Sánchez-Navas, A.,  Escamilla-Roa, E., Sainz-Díaz, C. I. (2019): Compressibility of 2M1 muscovite-phlogopite series minerals. Journal of Molecular Modeling 25:341.  

Farré-de-Pablo, J., Proenza, J. A., González-Jiménez, J. M., Garcia-Casco, A., Colás, V.,  Roqué-Rossell, J., Camprubí, A., Sánchez-Navas, A. (2018): A shallow origin for diamonds in ophiolitic chromitites. Geology, 47 (1), 75-78.  

Díaz-Hernández, J. L., Sánchez-Navas, A., Delgado, A., Yepes, J., García-Casco, A. (2018): Textural and isotopic evidence for Ca-Mg carbonate pedogenesis. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 222, 485-507. doi: 10.1016/j.gca.2017.11.006.

Sánchez-Navas, A., García-Casco, A.,  Mazzoli, S., Martín-Algarra, A. (2017): Polymetamorphism in the Alpujarride Complex, Betic Cordillera, south Spain. The Journal of Geology, 125, 637-657. doi: 10.1086/693862.


University of Alicante Group: Dr. Manuel Martín-Martín

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Manuel Martín Martín graduated in Geological Sciences from the University of Granada in 1990. He obtained a research grant from the FPI plan of the Ministry of Education and Science (1993-1996) and received his doctorate from the University of Granada in 1996, having studied the Tertiary of Maláguide Domain in Sierra Espuña (Bética Internal Zones). He obtained a postdoctoral fellowship from the FPI plan of the Ministry of Education and Science (1997-1998) to study the Paleogene of the Corbiéres and Minervois sector (SE, France) at the Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse (France). He is professor at the University of Alicante from the end of 1998. Since July 25, 2002, he has been a Full Professor at the University of Alicante at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (Internal Geodynamics area). Currently he is working on the tectono-sedimentary evolution of Cenozoic basins, being the Head Researcher of the Group of the University of Alicante: “Geodynamic evolution of the eastern Betic mountain range and the Alicante marine platform”.

Recent papers:

Martín-Martín, M., Guerrera, F., Tosquella, J, Tramontana, M. 2020. Paleocene-Lower Eocene carbonate platforms of westernmost Tethys. Sedimentary Geology 404, 105674. 

Martín-Martín, M., and Robles-Marín, P. (2020): Alternative methods for calculating compaction in sedimentary basins. Mar. Pet. Geol. 113, 104132. doi: 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2019.104132

Martín-Martín, M., Guerrera, F., Miclăuș, C., and Tramontana, M. (2020): Similar Oligo-Miocene tectono-sedimentary evolution of the Paratethyan branches represented by the Moldavidian Basin and Maghrebian Flysch Basin. Sedimentary Geology 396: 105548

Martín-Martín, M., Guerrera, F., and Tramontana, M. (2020): Geodynamic Implications of the Latest Chattian-Langhian Central-Western Peri-Mediterranean Volcano-Sedimentary Event: A Review.  The Journal of Geology 128:1, 29-43. doi: 10.1086/706262

– Guerrera, F., Martín-Martín, M., and Tramontana, M. (2019): Evolutionary geological models of the central-western peri-Mediterranean chains: a review. International Geology Reviews. 1-22. doi: 10.1080/00206814.2019.1706056

Martín-Martín, M., Estévez, A., Martín-Rojas, I., Guerrera, F., Alcalá, F. J., Serrano, F., Tramontana, M. (2018): The Agost Basin (Betic Cordillera, Alicante province, Spain): a pull-apart basin involving salt tectonics. International Journal of Earth Sciences. 107, 2: 655-671. Doi: 10.1007/s00531-017-1521-6

Perri, F.; Critelli, S.; Martín-Martín, M.; Montone, S.; Amendola, U. (2017): Unravelling hinterland and offshore palaeogeography from pre-to-syn-orogenic clastic sequences of the Betic Cordillera (Sierra Espuña), Spain. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Plaeoecology. 468, 52-69. 

Guerrera, F.; Martín-Martín, M.; Rafaelli, G.; Tramontana, M. (2015): The Early Miocene “Bisciaro volcaniclastic event” (northenr Apennines, Italy): a key study for the geodynamic evolution of the central-western Mediterranean. International Journal of Earth Sciences. 104: 1083-1106. 

Alcalá, F.J.; Guerrera, F.; Martín-Martín, M.; Raffaeli, G.; Serrano, F. (2013): Geodynamic implications derived from Numidian-like distal turbidites deposited along the Internal-External Domain boundary of the Betic Cordillera (S Spain). Terra Nova. 25:119-129.

Guerrera, F.; Martín-Algarra, A.; Martín-Martín, M. (2012): Tectono-sedimentary evolution of the “Numidian Formation” and Lateral Facies (southern branch of the western Tethys): constraints for central-western Mediterranean geodynamics. Terra  Nova. 24:34-41. 


Paul Fallot visit to the Crevillente Sierra on 1931

Filed under: Betics — Tags: , , , — messinianalicante @ 9:24 AM

A compilation of geological landscape images of the Crevillente Sierra prior to the Spanish civil war found in  the historical archives have been made. Specifically from the authors Daniel Jiménez de Cisneros and Hervás, Bartolomé Darder Pericàs and Paul Fallot. Many different works have been carried out on the first two authors, while the stereographic photographs of the Paul Fallot Fund in the Archive of the University of Granada  are mentioned for the first time.

During the preparation of the Symposium Tribute to D. Daniel Jiménez de Cisneros y Hervás, in 2004, part of the glass gelatin silver emulsions in the Jimenez de Cisneros collection were cataloged and scanned.

Tables are made with the description of the glasses and some images that have been described in previous works are shown. The conservation of this material is worthwhile because you can see how the landscape of the mountains has changed from the beginning of the last century to the present day.

Stereoscopic pictures number 1849 of the Paul Fallot Fund of the Granada University. Numbered as 2452 by its author and described as: “Néogene Colina del Castillo S. de Crevillente P.F. 31” (Paul Fallot 1931). Bottom El Frare from el Pla taken on February 13th of 2004 by J. E. Tent-Manclus.

Cite as: Tent-Manclús, J. E., Lancis, C. y Baeza Carratalá, J. F. (2019): Las fotografías realizadas para el studio geológico de la Sierra de Crevillente a principios del siglo XX. In: Daniel Jiménez de Cisneros Centenario de sus trabajos sobre geología y paleontología de la Sierra de Crevillent (Belmonte Mas y Satorre Pérez, A. Eds.). Ayuntamiento de Crevillent. Concejalía de Cultura. 247-259.


Terminology revision of AlKaPeCa and Mesomediterranean Microplate

Filed under: geodynamic evoluton,paleogeography,Tethys — Tags: , , , — messinianalicante @ 2:15 PM

The use of terms strictly related to the original formulation of different models caused, in some cases, inaccuracies in the univocal identification of some main palaeogeographic elements.

Bouillin et al. (1986) introduced the acronym AlKaPeCa for a lithospherical block formed by Alboran-Kabylian-Peloritan-Calabrian Internal Zones, Alpine units. According to them the relationships between AlKaPeCa and the Maghrebian Flysch Basin  may be synthesized as follows:‘ the only possible oceanic zone known between Western Europe and Africa, at the Jurassic time, corresponds to the basement of the Flyschs which was located southward of AlKaPeCa’ .

 Many palaeogeographic interpretations of the Jurassic-Cretaceous evolution of the Betic, Maghrebian and Apennine Chains have been roughly grouped into two main general families: (1) Type A  models: they state the presence of a single oceanic area (i.e., the Tethys) located between the African and European Plates; (2) Type B  models: they consider the occurrence of two oceanic branches of the Tethys surrounding one or more microcontinents located between the African and European Plates. Both classes of models imply a different evolution during the Pangea breakup and during the Cretaceous-Cenozoic convergence. According to Type A  models the Pangea broke with a single oceanic branch located between Europe and Africa, meanwhile according to Type B  models the fragmentation was more complex leading to two oceanic branches with several microplates located between Europe and Africa.

Reproduction of some original figures from literature concerning Type B models (A to D boxes) showing some inappropriate use of terms. The figures presented show Type B models which use the term AlKaPeCa instead of Mesomediterranean Microplate (MM). (a). Palaeogeographic sketch map (at Jurassic times) and evolutionary cross sections from Late Jurassic to Middle Miocene (after Michard et al. 2002); (b). Evolutionary palaeogeographic cross sections from Eocene to Oligocene (after Viti et al. 2009); (c). Evolutionary palaeogeographic sketch maps from 55 to 45 My (after Schmid et al. 2017); (d). Palaeogeographic sketch map at Early Miocene times (after Leprêtre et al. 2018).

According to Guerrera et al. (2019)  the original meaning of AlKaPeCa should be reserved to indicate a detached piece of the European Margin while the Mesomediterranean Microplate  should be used exclusively for the independent microplate even though during the Maghrebian- Apennine orogeny these elements actually coincide to form the Internal Zones of these chains. For this reason, the use of this acronym is not appropriate for models which consider the occurrence of an independent microplate surrounded by different oceanic branches of the Tethys since Mesozoic. A more common name used in literature for this microplate is the Mesomediterranean Microplate.

Cite as: Guerrera, F., Martín-Martín, M., and Tramontana, M. (2019): Evolutionary geological models of the central-western peri-Mediterranean chains: a review. International Geology Reviews. 1-22. doi: 10.1080/00206814.2019.1706056

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