The intracontinental High and Middle Atlas mountain belts in Morocco intersect to form the southern and western margins of the Missour basin, an intermontane basin formed as a result of the uplift and inversion of the Mesozoic Atlas paleorifts. These rifts were areas where the crust was greatly attenuated and more subject to deformation in response to nearby plate boundary tectonics. Data from observations based on seismic reflection profiles and wells over the Missour basin for hydrocarbon exploration and field mapping were used to understand the basin evolution, structural styles, and inversion timing of the nearby Atlas Mountains. Hercynian and Mesozoic normal faults were reactivated into high-angle reverse and thrust faults in the Mesozoic during the Jurassic, Early Cretaceous (early Alpine phase), and the Paleogene (late Alpine phase). The reactivation of synrift normal faults of the paleo-Atlas rifts inverted previous half grabens into anticlinal structures, with the axis of the half graben centered below the axis of the inverted anticline. The resulting inverted fold geometries are controlled by the geometries of the extensional planar or listric faults.
The Atlas paleorift system is one of the largest rift systems in Africa. Little hydrocarbon exploration has occurred within the Atlas Mountains and the margins of the paleo-Atlas rift system. Inversion of synrift structures can lead to both the destruction and preservation of synrift traps and the creation of new hydrocarbon traps. The study of the effects of inversion in the Missour basin may lead to the discovery of footwall subthrust hydrocarbon traps in the Mesozoic sedimentary sequence of the Atlas Mountains.