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


Tethyan to Mediterranean Evolution

Filed under: Betics,Tethys — Tags: — messinianalicante @ 5:49 PM

Message from the Guest Editor

Dear Colleagues,

Several geological modeling studies on the geodynamic and paleogeographic Alpine (Eo-Alpine during the Cretaceous–Paleogene; Neo-Alpine during the Oligocene– Miocene) evolution of the Mediterranean have been published without consensus in the last four decades. Therefore, a Special Issue dedicated to “Tethayan to Mediterranean evolution” seems justified. Studies that consider the geodynamic and/or paleogeographic evolution of the entire Mediterranean area or a part of this area will be welcome. The proposal can be focused on stratigraphic, sedimentological, petrographic, or tectonic data, or geophysical interpretations and reconstructions based on principles of Plate Tectonics using GPlates or similar software. The papers that are published in this Special Issue can contribute to clarifying and updating the state of our knowledge about this controversial theme.

Message from the Editorial Board

T h e Journal of Marine Science and Engineering (JMSE; ISSN 2077-1312) is an international peer-reviewed open access journal which provides an advanced forum for studies related to marine science and engineering. The journal aims to provide scholarly research on a range of topics, including ocean engineering, chemical oceanography, physical oceanography, marine biology and marine geosciences. We invite you to publish in our journal sharing your important research findings with the global ocean community.

Open Access: free for readers, with article processing charges (APC) paid by authors or their institutions.

High visibility: Indexed in the Science Citation Index Expanded in Web of Science, in Inspec (IET) and in Scopus.

CiteScore (2018 Scopus data): 1.76, which equals rank 30/92 in ‘Ocean Engineering’, rank 105/288 in ‘Civil and Structural Engineering’ and rank 77/203 in ‘Water Science and Technology’.


Guest Editor:

Prof. Dr. Manuel Martín-Martín

Earth sciences and environment

Department (University of Alicante). Campus Universitario del San Vicente del Raspeig, AP- 99, 03080 Alicante, Spain

Deadline for manuscript submissions:

10 March 2020


Paleogene sedimentary evolution of the Alicante Trough

Filed under: Betics — Tags: , , , , — messinianalicante @ 7:52 AM

A new work to illustrate a changes in the evolution of the Alicante Trough located to the southeastern part of the sudiberian paleomargin and north to the supposed elevated sea floor forming a marine platform.  Here the link to the work in Repository of the UA.

The Paleogene Alicante Trough of the South-Iberian Margin (External Betic Zone) consists of a narrow sedimentary basin that has active margins  located to the north-northwest (active mainly during the Eocene) and to the south-southeast (active during the Oligocene). Both margins, consisting of shallow unstable platforms, were the source areas for the external-platform slope (in the opposite margins) and deep-basin (in the middle) depositional realms. The southern margin, lost under the Mediterranean Sea, is recognized only by the reconstructed Oligocene slope sediments.

Geological sketch map of the Alicante region of the study area (External Betic Zone) within the Internal Prebetic (North-Northeast sector) and Intermediate sub-Domains (south-southwest sector).

The eight successions studied, on opposites external-platform-slope margins and the deep within the central part of the basin, lead us to divide the basin into two depositional realms: the subsident Western Depositional Area (WDA) and the not subsident Eastern Depositional Area (EDA). This study has also enabled us to divide the infilling of the basin into two depositional sequences: Eocene p.p. (EDS) and Oligocene p.p. (ODS) in age, respectively, bound by two sequence boundaries (unconformities) at the Early Eocene (P6 zone) and Early Oligocene (P19 zone). The EDSand ODSare comprised of turbiditic and olisthostromic deposits and frequently slumps, evidencing an active tectonic in the margin-basin system.

Stratigraphy, correlation, sampling localization and main sedimentary cycles recognized (Eocene p.p. and Oligocene p.p.) of the studied successions in the Western (WDA) and Eastern EDA) Depositional Areas.


Chronostragraphy of the studied successions.

The correlation of the Paleogene sedimentary reconstructed in the Alicante Trough with other four synthetic successions throughout the External (three in the Subbetic Domain) and one in the Internal Betic Zone indicate a Paleogene generalised deformational framework.

Main Eocene and Oligocene sedimentary realms and location of the studied successions in the Internal Prebetic and Intermediate sub-Domains.

Sedimentary record and new sequential stratigraphy in the study area.

In addition, this evolution is contemporaneous to the Pyrenean, Iberian and the Nevado-Filabride Alpine deformation. The Paleogene tectonic recognised in the External Betic Zone is younger since the main orogenic deformation took place in the late Burdigalian to early Tortonian.

Correlation among synthetic Paleogene successions and main unconformities in the Betic Chain. Key: ALI, Alicante succession (Internal Prebetic-Intermediate sub-Domains); SB, Bullas succession, (Murcia province, Middle Subbetic sub-Domain); SPM, Piñar-Moreda succession, (Granada province, Middle Subbetic sub-Domain); SHC, Malaga succession (High Chain, Internal Subbetic sub-Domain); MSE, Sierra Espuña succession (Murcia province, Internal Betic Zones, Malaguide Complex).

The origin of these early tectonics is discussed in relation to the Nevado-Filabride Alpine deformation.

Palaeogeography and geodynamic model of the Western Tethys during Late Cretaceous and Late Oligocene. Numbers 1 to 5 indicate the location of the correlated successions.

Cite as: Guerrera, F., Estévez, A., López-Arcos, M., Martín-Martín, M., Martín-Pérez, J.A., Serrano, F. (2006): Paleogene tectono-sedimentary evolution of the Alicante Trough (External Betic Zone, SE Spain) and its bearing on the timing of the deformation of the South-Iberian Margin. Geodinamica Acta, 19 (2): 87-101. doi: 10.3166/ga.19.87-101


8th International Brachiopod Congress

Filed under: Betics — Tags: , , — messinianalicante @ 8:34 PM

The 8th International Brachiopod Congress was held at the University of Milan (Università deli Studi di Milano) and organized by a committee chaired by Lucia Angiolini from Milan and Renato Posenato from Ferrara.

A four-day pre-congress fieldtrip was proposed to Spain with a detailed guidebook published by García Joral et al., (2018). The fieldtrip to Spain started on 6th September 2018 in Madrid, from where participants headed northwards to Aragon, where in the Iberian Ranges two days were devoted to Jurassic and one to the Palaeozoic (Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian). The last day took the participants to the Betic Mountains near Alicante, where we admired the Liassic faunas of the Mediterranean province.

Pictures of the congress and the fieldtrips can be seen in:

Halamski A. T., 2019. Eighth International Brachiopod Congress Milan, Italy, 11th-14th September, 2018., 9 p

Fieldtrip to Spain, 9th September, 2018. José Enrique Tent-Manclús explaining the geology of the Betic Mountains. Liassic, Cerro de la Cruz section, Reclot Mountain Range near Alicante. Photo by A.T. Halamski.


García-Joral F., Villas E. & Baeza-Carratalá J.F. (eds), 2018. 8th International Brachiopod Congress Field Guide. E1: Paleozoic and Mesozoic brachiopods of East Spain, ii + 76 pp. Workcenter Servicios Globales de Documentación, Madrid.


Source areas in the Agost Basin (Betic Cordillera)

Filed under: Betics,Tectonosedimentary model — Tags: , , , — messinianalicante @ 7:52 AM

A new work to illustrate a changes in source areas related with pull-apart basin  in the Betics. Here the link to the work in researchgate.

Sedimentary and mineralogical analyses were performed in the Neogene Agost Basin (External Domain, Betic Cordillera) to reconstruct relationships between tectonics and sedimentation, and source areas evolution over time.

Geological Setting

Figure 1) A: Index map; B: Geological sketch showing the main zones and units of the Betic Cordillera; C: Geological map based on the main sedimentary cycles proposed by Vera (2004).


The sedimentary analysis allowed defining two sedimentary sequences: (1) Lower Stratigraphic Unit, Serravallian p.p. and (2) Upper Stratigraphic Unit, post Lower Tortonian (Upper Miocene p.p.)separated by an angular unconformity. They consist of marine (lithofacies L-1to L-3) and continental (lithofacies L-5to L-8) deposits respectively (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Lithostratigraphic record and correlations of four representative successions (logs 1 to 4) of the Agost Basin. The two main sequences (Lower Stratigraphic Unit, LSU and Upper Stratigraphic Unit, USU) separated by an angular unconformity are evidenced. Depositional environments, supplies and the isochronous lines T1-T5 are also indicated.


The analysis of mineralogical assemblages and some XRD parameters of the sedimentary sequences (Figure 3) and older formations (Figure 4) allowed recognizing a sedimentary evolution controlled by the activation of different source areas over time.

Figure 3. Mineralogical results of the Neogene sedimentary record of the Agost Basin (LSU and USU, given as the average value from the set of samples (n) in each lithofacies L-1 to L-8 included in tab. 2 for the whole rock and the <2 µm grain-size fraction (in wt. %). Ranges and average values of the intensities ratio of the Qtz(001)/Qtz(101) peak areas of quartz, and Sme(003)/Sme(002) peak areas of smectite and Ill(002)/Ill(001) peak areas of illite under ethylene glycol solvation are included.


Figure 4. Mineralogical results concerning the source areas given as the average value from the set of samples (n) in each Sedimentary Cycle included in tab. 1 for the whole rock and the <2 µm grain-size fraction (in wt. %). Ranges and average values of the intensities ratio of the Qtz(001)/Qtz(101) peak areas of quartz, and Sme(003)/Sme(002) peak areas of smectite and Ill(002)/Ill(001) peak areas of illite under ethylene glycol solvation are included.


In particular, the Ill+Kln±Sme+Chl clay-mineral association characterizes the supply from Triassic formations; the Ill+Kln+Sme association from Albian formations; the Sme+Ill±Kln+(I-S) and Sme+Ill±Kln associations from Upper Cretaceous p.p.formations; and the Sme+Ill±Kln+(I-S) association from Paleogene formations, testifying a tectonic mobility of the basin margins differentiated over time (Figure 5).


Figure 5. (A) Comparative plots of XRD parameters, traceable mineral phases, and clay-mineral associations of the Neogene sedimentary record of the Agost Basin (LSU and USU, including the lithofacies L-1 to L-8) and source areas (Sedimentary Cycles I to VI as Triassic p.p., CI; Albian p.p., CIV; Cenomanian-Turonian p.p., CV-CT; Upper Cretaceous p.p., CV-S; and Paleogene p.p., CVI); purple, green, and orange dotted lines identify supplies from predominant Triassic, Cretaceous, and Upper Cretaceous-Paleogene source areas, respectively. The ternary plots for the whole-rock (B) and the <2 µm grain-size fraction (C) mineralogy, given as the average value (in wt. %) from the set of samples in each Sedimentary Cycle (tab. 1, fig. 4) and lithofacies (tab. 2, fig. 5), show three compositional fields corresponding to predominant Triassic like (TR), Albian like (AL), and Upper Cretaceous-Paleogene like (CP) mineralogical associations mixing in variable proportions to determine the mineralogical associations from L-1 to L-8. Samples with gypsum and chloride as typical Triassic mineral phases to identify the Triassic influence in F-1 to F-8 are indicated.


This reconstruction leads to propose detailed relationships between types of deposits and provenance and not a classic “unroofing”, as follows: (i) the lithofacies L-1 (lithofacies L-2 and L-3 were not analysed) is characterized by the Ill+Kln+Sme mineralogical association indicating an origin from the Albian formations; (ii) the lithofacies L-4 shows a mixture of Ill+Kln+Sme and Sme+Ill+Kln associations sourced from the Albian and Upper Cretaceous formations; (iii) the lithofacies L-5 is characterized by the Sme+Ill±Kln+(I-S) association indicating a provenance from the Upper Cretaceous and Paleogene formations; (iv) the lithofacies L-6 to L-8 are characterized by the Ill+Kln±Sme+Chl association indicating a supply mainly from Triassic deposits. The evolutionary sedimentary model reconstructed for the Agost Basin, which improves a previous contribution about the same area, has been correlated with those reported in other intramontane Neogene basins in the Betic-Rifian Arc studied with similar resolution, so obtaining useful information for regional reconstructions.

Figure 6. Tectono-sedimentary evolutionary model with location of source areas of the Agost Basin and surrounding areas. A: Middle Miocene stage (Lower Stratigraphic Unit); B: Late Miocene stage (Upper Stratigraphic Unit).



Cite as: Martín-Martín, M., Guerrera, F., Alcalá, F. J., Serrano, F., Tramontana, M. (2018): Source areas evolution in the Neogene Agost Basin (Betic Cordillera): implications for regional reconstructions. Italian Journal of Geoscience. 2018, 137(3): 433-451. doi:10.3301/IJG.2018.14


Daniel Jimenez de Cisneros

Filed under: Betics — Tags: , , , — messinianalicante @ 7:25 AM

Next September the village of Crevillente will be organised a summer course inside the offer of the Miguel Hernández University summer course entitled “Jimenez de Cisneros, pioneer in the geological and paleontological investigation in the Southern Alicante”.


This year marks the centenary of Daniel Jiménez de Cisneros, Professor of Natural History, publication in the “Iberia” journal, of the first geological and paleontological synthesis of the Crevillente Sierra.
Daniel Jiménez de Cisneros made what could be the first and oldest photographs of the Crevillente Sierra, an exceptional graphic testimony that allows us to see what the landscape of this mountain was like 100 years ago. We also owe him not only the identification of the main paleontological sites of the mountains, but also the approach of the first geological itineraries on it, published in the “Iberia” journal in 1919.
This course makes this figure known to us and brings us closer to the geology and paleontology of our environment by the help of great specialists.

Ana Satorres course coordinador.

More information about the Crevillente course here.

One of the events of this course will be a field trip to the Crevillente Sierra to see the some of the historical sites mentioned in the 100-year-old paper of Jimenez de Cisneros conducted by Jose Enrique Tent- Manclus.

All the news about the event will be comment in this blog.




The Agost Basin (Betic Cordillera, Alicante province, Spain): a pull-apart basin involving salt tectonics

Filed under: Betics,Tectonosedimentary model — Tags: , , , — messinianalicante @ 12:05 PM

A new work to illustrate a strike-slip basin in the Betics. Here the link to the publisher.

The Agost Basin is characterized by a Miocene-Quaternary shallow marine and continental infilling controlled by the evolution of several curvilinear faults involving salt tectonics derived from Triassic rocks. From the Serravallian on, the area experienced a horizontal maximum compression with a rotation of the maximum stress axis from E-W to N-S.

Figure 1) A: Index map; B: Geological sketch showing the main zones and units of the Betic Cordillera; C: Geological map based on the main sedimentary cycles proposed by Vera (2004).


Geological setting

Figure 2) A: Detailed geological map of a sector of the Novelda-Jijona Strike-Slip Fault zone including the Agost Basin and surrounding areas (location shown in Fig. 1C); B: Detailed geological map of the Agost Basin, including the five isochronous lines T1-T5.

Figure 3) Geological cross sections (located in Figure 2) showing the lateral structural evolution of the Novelda-Jijona Strike-Slip Fault. The insertion of isochronous lines T1-T5 is useful for lateral correlations in the Agost Basin.

The resulting deformation gave rise to a strike-slip fault whose evolution is characterized progressively by three stages (see Figure 4): (i) stepover/releasing bend with a dextral motion of blocks; (ii) very close to pure horizontal compression; and (iii) restraining bend with a sinistral movement of blocks.

Figure 4) Paleogeographic model of the Agost Basin and surrounding relief with indications of sedimentary environments and isochronous lines T1-T5.

In particular, after an incipient fracturing stage, faults generated a pull-apart basin with terraced sidewall fault and graben subzones developed in the context of a dextral stepover during the lower part of late Miocene p.p. The occurrence of Triassic shales and evaporites played a fundamental role in the tectonic evolution of the study area. The salty material flowed along faults during this stage generating salt walls in root zones and salt push-up structures at the surface. During the purely compressive stage (middle part of late Miocene p.p.) the salt walls were squeezed to form extrusive mushroom-like structures. The large amount of clayish and salty material that surfaced was rapidly eroded and deposited into the basin, generating prograding fan clinoforms. The occurrence of shales and evaporites (both in the margins of the basin and in the proper infilling) favored folding of basin deposits, faulting, and the formation of rising blocks. Later, in the last stage (upper part of late Miocene p.p.), the area was affected by sinistralrestraining conditions and faults must have bent to their current shape. The progressive folding of the basin and deformation of margins changed the supply points and finally caused the end of deposition and the beginning of the current erosive systems. On the basis of the interdisciplinary results, the Agost Basin can be considered a key case of the interference between salt tectonics and the evolution of strike-slip fault zones. The reconstructed model has been compared with several scaled sandbox analogical models and with some natural pull-apart basins.

Figure 5) Comparison with scaled analogical models and natural pull-apart basins. A: sandbox analogic model, non-overlapping releasing sidestep, to simulate the kinematic and geometric evolution of pull-apart basins, after Dooley and McClay (1997); B: Sketch map of the Dead Sea Basin (from Keydar et al. 2013, modified); C: Sketch map of the Salina del Fraile in Argentina (from Reijs and McClay, 2003, modified); D: Sunik pull-apart basin in Armenia (from Karakhanian et al., 2002, modified).

Research supported by: Research Project CGL2016-75679-P, Spanish Ministry of Education and Science; Research Groups and Projects of the Generalitat Valenciana, Alicante University (CTMA-IGA); Research Group RNM 146, Junta de Andalucía; Grants from University of Urbino “Carlo Bo”, responsible M. Tramontana.

Cite as: 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


About this blog

Filed under: Betics — Tags: , — messinianalicante @ 12:43 PM

This is a geological blog of a team of worker in the Westernmost Tethys which rocks are today found surrounding the Western Mediterranean basin (from the Gibraltar Strait to the Messina Strait-Sicily passage).

We are focus on the interaction of the two main continents of Africa and Europe and the microplates in between.

In this blog will comment our works, highlight the key point, illustrate our fieldwork and add new figures.

Figure of the Central Betics showing the metamorphic complexes and the neogene basins.


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