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Provenance and paleogeographic implications for the Cenozoic sedimentary cover of the Ghomaride Complex (Internal Rif Belt), Morocco

 The Cenozoic sedimentary cover from the Ghomaride Complex (Internal Rif Belt) has been studied in the Tetuan area (N Morocco) where a suite of sedimentary successions from shallow-marine to deep-marine environments crops out. For that purpose stratigraphic relations and petrological and geochemical signatures have been analyzed. Sandstone suites of the overall succession are heterogeneous and testify a multi-source area, in response of accretionary processes of the Ghomaride-Malaguide units and the exhumation of the lower units of the Internal Rif Zone (e.g. Sebtide-Alpujarride Complex). Pre-orogenic and Syn-orogenic (according to the eoalpine phase) deposits have been identified consisting in two depositional sequences: lower Paleocene and Cuisian-Bartonian, and upper Oligocene-upper Aquitanian and lower Burdigalian, respectively. Pre-orogenic deposits are mainly intra-arenite and hybrid arenites made of a minor amount of siliciclastic detritus but with abundance of intrabasinal carbonate grains. The syn-orogenic sandstone suites are quartzolithic, having abundance of low-grade metamorphic and sedimentary lithic fragments. Sedimentary lithic fragments are derived from the Mesozoic successions of the Ghomaride-Malaguide Complex while metamorphic detritus is related to an unknow Internal Rif Zone basement that was exhumed starting from the late Oligocene and mainly early Miocene. Modal analyses of sandstone suites for the extrabasinal grains mainly indicate lower rank metamorphic and sedimentary source terranes of a recycled orogen. Major and trace elements coupled to the mineralogical composition of the mudrock samples indicate a provenance from felsic source area(s) with a minor but not negligible contribution from mafic rocks mainly in the syn-orogenic suites.

Geochemical analyses (Al–Ti–Zr ternary plot) indicate minor reworking and recycling processes before the final deposition through prolonged processes of sedimentary transportation. The trends evident in both CIA and CIA’ diagrams indicate source areas characterized by moderate weathering in non-steady-state conditions with a weak change of weathering condition from the pre-orogenic to the syn-orogenic cycle. Deposition during the Paleocene and Eocene, took place in the southern continental margin of the Ghomaride-Malaguide domain as a carbonate ramp. Contrarily, sedimentation in the late Oligocene-late Aquitanian took place in wedge-top basins within the Ghomaride- Malaguide domain. These changes occurred during the Burdigalian, when back arc basins were developed in the Internal Betic-Rif Zone. The Cenozoic reconstructed record was contemporaneous of the structuring of the Circum-Mediterranean chains and the Ghomaride-Malaguide Complex played a key role in the geodynamic evolution of the Rif Cordillera, representing a key tectonic element of the western Mesomediterranean domains. 

Cite as: Perri, F., Martín-Martín, M., Maaté, A., Hlila, R., Maaté, S., Criniti, S., Capobianco, W., Critelli, S., 2022. Provenance and paleogeographic implications for the Cenozoic sedimentary cover of the Ghomaride Complex (Internal Rif Belt), Morocco. Mar. Pet. Geol. 143, 105811. doi: 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2022.105811