The role of detachment faulting in the formation of an ocean–continent transition: insights from the Iberia Abyssal Plain
G. Manatschal, N. Froitzheim, M. Rubenach, B. D. Turrin, 2001. "The role of detachment faulting in the formation of an ocean–continent transition: insights from the Iberia Abyssal Plain", Non-Volcanic Rifting of Continental Margins: A Comparison of Evidence from Land and Sea, R. C. L. Wilson, R. B. Whitmarsh, B. Taylor, N. Froitzheim
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The Iberia Abyssal Plain segment of the West Iberia margin was drilled during Ocean Drilling Program Legs 149 and 173 and has been extensively studied geophysically. We present new microstructural investigations and new age data. These, together with observed distribution of upper-and lower-crustal and mantle rocks along the ocean–continent transition suggest the existence of three detachment faults, one of which was previously unrecognized. This information, together with a simple kinematic inversion of the reinterpreted seismic section Lusigal 12, allows discussion of the kinematic evolution of detachment faulting in terms of the temporal sequence of faulting, offset along individual faults, and thinning of the crust during faulting. Our study shows that the detachment structures recognized in the seismic profile became active only during a final stage of rifting when the crust was already considerably thinned to c.12 km. The total amount of extension accommodated by the detachment faults is of the order of 32.6 km corresponding to a ß factor of about two. During rifting, the mode of deformation changed oceanwards. Initial listric faulting led to asymmetric basins, accommodating low amounts of extension, and was followed by a situation in which the footwall was pulled out from underneath a relatively stable hanging wall accommodating high amounts of extension. Deformation along the latter faults resulted in a conveyor-belt type sediment accumulation in which the exhumed footwall rocks were exposed, eroded and redeposited along the same active fault system.
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Non-volcanic continental margins may form up to 30% all present-day passive margins, and remnants of them are preserved in mountain belts. The papers in this volume demonstrate the benefits of integrating offshore and onshore studies, and illustrate the range of information obtained at different scales when comparing evidence from land and sea. Data sets collected across a range of spatial scales are evaluated: thin sections, cores, outcrops, seismic reflection profiles, and other geophysical data. The outcrop scale is crucial because it enables the spatial gulf to be bridged between DSDP and ODP cores and marine seismic data. There is also the problem that basins on land and beneath the sea inevitably have had different post-rift histories resulting in their contrasting present-day elevation. In mountain belts, portions of continental margins and oceanic crust are superbly exposed, but dismembered by subsequent compressional tectonics. Off present-day passive margins, extensional features have only been slightly deformed, if at all, by compressional movements, but are buried beneath significant thicknesses of post-rift sediments and so can only be sampled by ocean drilling at a small number of points.
The first paper reviews the synergies that have occurred between investigations of the eastern North Atlantic non-volcanic margins and remnants of similar Mesozoic margins preserved in the Alps, and some later papers return to this theme. However, papers describing margins from other parts of the world show that it may be premature to use models based on the Atlantic and the Alps as the paradigm for all non-volcanic margins. The following 25 papers in the book are grouped under the following headings: (1) Margin overviews; (2) Exhumed crust and mantle; (3) Tectonics and stratigraphy; (4)Numerical models of extension and magmatism.