The Carboniferous rocks of Spain crop out mainly in the Iberian Massif, which occupies almost half of the Iberian Peninsula. There are additionally a number of smaller Carboniferous inliers, separated by a Mesozoic and Tertiary cover, exposed in the Iberian Ranges, Pyrenees, Catalonian Coastal Ranges, Minorca and the Betic Cordillera (Fig. 7.1). Variscan and sometimes Alpine tectonism has variously overprinted these Carboniferous outcrops, commonly obscuring their original relationships.
During the Carboniferous period, sedimentation was coeval with the Variscan orogeny, in contrast to earlier Palaeozoic sedimentation in a rift to passive margin setting. The strong tectonic control on Variscan sedimentation resulted in mobile, unstable basins, with sedimentary successions that show rapid temporal and spatial changes in lithofacies and thickness. This has promoted a proliferation of stratigraphic units of only local importance, making regional correlations difficult.
The Carboniferous successions in Spain are generally dominated by siliciclastic rocks that vary from deep water turbidite successions to shallow marine, coal-bearing coastal and fully continental formations. Deep water turbidite successions are in many places referred to as the ‘Culm’, a term coined by Fiege (1936), although the Culm successions of the Iberian Variscan Belt are not always Early Carboniferous in age as in the original definition. In some areas limestones are locally important or even dominant and thin, condensed units of limestones or shales are widespread during Tournaisian and Visean times. An exception to the dominantly sedimentary record is provided by volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks which are abundant in the southern
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This book provides the first comprehensive account in English of the geology of mainland Spain and the Balearic and Canary islands. It has been written by 159 research-active, mostly Spanish authors working together in teams from over 20 universities and other centres of research excellence. The 19 chapters begin with an overview of Spanish geology prepared by the editors, followed by a detailed examination of Iberian Precambrian and Palaeozoic rocks in Spain, Variscan magmatism and tectonics, and the Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary record and fossil record. Subsequent chapters deal with the Alpine orogeny in the Pyrenees, Betics and other mountain ranges of Spain and the Balearic Islands, and with Cenozoic magmatism, including the classic hot-spot-related volcanism of the Canary Islands. The final chapter focuses on economic and environmental geology, emphasizing metallic deposits and industrial minerals, hydrocarbon energy resources, water supply, and modern seismic hazard. Finally a bibliography of around 4000 references provides a uniquely valuable information source. Encompassing subjects as diverse as the origin of Spanish granites, the palaeogeographic and tectonometamorphic history of the Iberian plate, human evolution in the SW Mediterranean, and modern volcanism and earthquake activity, The Geology of Spain is a key reference work suitable not only for libraries across the world, but of interest to all researchers, teachers and students of SW European geology.