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


Cenozoic detrital suites from the Internal Betic-Rif Cordilleras (S Spain and N Morocco): implications for paleogeography and paleotectonics

 A synthesis of Cenozoic detrital suites from the Internal Betic-Rif Cordilleras is discussed in relations with major paleotectonic phases during growth of orogenic belts. The discussion has been focused on the Malaguide and Ghomaride complexes that have a Cenozoic sedimentary detritic cover. The heterogeneous petrographic composition of coarse detrital rocks, and the mineralogy and geochemistry of mudrocks indicate a multiple source area consisting in metamorphic, and recycled siliciclastic and carbonate source rocks, with a minor supply of mafic rocks during the early Miocene. The siliciclastic coarse detrital suites plot mainly in a wide area at the Qm-Lt side in a Qm-F-Lt diagram reflecting their transition between a craton, quartzose recycled, quartzose transitional orogenic, and finally lithic transitional orogenic provenance type. The Paleocene-Eocene successions seem to be affected by higher weathering effects than the Oligo-Miocene ones. Significant recycling and reworking processes should take place during the Paleocene-Eocene and the Oligo-Miocene before the final deposition. The source areas were characterized by non-steady-state weathering conditions reflecting a progressive cooling contemporaneous to the typical evolution of source areas where active tectonism allows erosion within weathering profiles developed on source rocks. A sharp increase of siliciclastic content together with the changes in sorting-recycling-weathering suggests abrupt changes in the source area starting from Oligocene. This fact allows subdividing the succession into the lower (Paleocene-Eocene) and the upper (Oligocene-Early Miocene) cycles. Lower cycle was contemporaneous to the Eo-Alpine tectonic phase, which was reflected in the Malaguide and Ghomaride domains by basement folding and deep tectonics with fault-propagation folds, accomplished by minor rising or reliefs and deepening of subsidence areas. Contrarily, the upper cycle took place during the Neo-Alpine phase, when in the Malaguide and Ghomaride domains, thrustings should become superficial contemporaneous to subduction and stacking of tectonic units.

Paleogeographic and paleotectonic evolutionary models for the Central-Western Mediterranean area during the Cretaceous to Early Miocene with location of the Malaguide and Ghomaride Domains, as well as, main supplies and source areas. A) Cretaceous times sketch map (70 Ma); B) Eocene times sketch map (35 Ma); C) Oligocene times sketch map (25 Ma); D) Burdigalian times sketch map (20 Ma).

This led to a strong increasing of rising areas reflected in the sedimentation by the occurrence of coarse terrigenous deposits in wedge-top basins. The early Miocene also shows the influence of volcanism in the Mediterranean region, and/or the erosion of magmatic-metamorphic rocks derived from deep tectonic levels affected in the Eo-Alpine phase or belonging to the Hercynian bedrock. This evolution fits well with recent paleogeographic-geodynamic models for the western-central Mediterranean. 

Cite as: Martín-Martín, M., Perri, F., Critelli, S., 2023. Cenozoic detrital suites from the Internal Betic-Rif Cordilleras (S Spain and N Morocco): implications for paleogeography and paleotectonics. Earth-Science Rev. 243, 104498.


Sierra Espuña Malaguide an example of geological heritage

Filed under: Cenozoic,Geological Heritage,Tectonosedimentary model — Tags: , , — messinianalicante @ 3:28 PM

The Cenozoic Malaguide Basin from Sierra Espuña (Internal Betic Zone, S Spain) due to the quality of outcropping, areal representation, and continuity in the sedimentation can be considered a key-basin. In the last 30 years, a large number of studies with very different methodological approaches have been done in the area. Models indicate an evolution from passive margin to wedgetop basin from Late Cretaceous to Early Miocene. Sedimentation changes from limestone platforms with scarce terrigenous inputs, during the Paleocene to Early Oligocene, to the deep basin with huge supplies of turbidite sandstones and conglomerates during the Late Oligocene to Early Miocene. The area now appears structured as an antiformal stack with evidence of synsedimentary tectonics. The Cenozoic tectono-sedimentary basin evolution is related to three phases: (1) flexural tectonics during most of the Paleogene times to create the basin; (2) fault and fold compartmentation of the basin with the creation of structural highs and subsiding areas related to blind-fault-propagation folds, deforming the basin from south to north during Late Oligocene to Early Aquitanian times; (3) thin-skin thrusting tectonics when the basin began to be eroded during the Late Aquitanian-Burdigalian. In recent times some works on the geological heritage of the area have been performed trying to diffuse different geological aspects of the sector to the general public. A review of the studies performed and the revisiting of the area allow proposing different key-outcrops to follow the tectono-sedimentary evolution of the Cenozoic basin from this area. Eight sites of geological interest have been selected (Cretaceous-Cenozoic boundary, Paleocene Mula Fm, Lower Eocene Espuña- Valdelaparra Fms, Middle Eocene Malvariche-Cánovas Fms, Lowermost Oligocene As Fm, Upper Oligocene-Lower Aquitanian Bosque Fm, Upper Oligocene-Aquitanian Río Pliego Fm, Burdigalian El Niño Fm) and an evaluation has been performed to obtain four parameters: the scientific value, the educational and touristic potential, and the degradation risk. The firsts three parameters obtained values above 50 being considered of “high” or “very high” interest (“very high” in most of the cases). The last parameter shows always values below 50 indicating a “moderate” or “low” risk of degradation. The obtained values allow us considering the tectono-sedimentary evolution of this basin worthy of being proposed as a geological heritage.

(C) Detail of the fossils from the Malvariche Fm. (D) Field outcrop of the Cánovas Fm with flat larger foraminifera. (E) Solitary corals collected in the Cánovas Fm. (F) Thin section of the Cánovas Fm: flat larger foraminifera.


Cite as: Moliner-Aznar, S.; Martín-Martín, M.; Rodríguez-Estrella, T.; Romero-Sánchez, G. The Cenozoic Malaguide Basin from Sierra Espuña (Murcia, S Spain): An Example of Geological Heritage. Geosciences 2021, 11, 34. geosciences11010034

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