Abstract

Surface deformation in Morocco, derived from five years of global positioning system (GPS) survey observations of a 22-station network, four continuously recording GPS (CGPS) stations, and four International GNSS Service (IGS) stations in Iberia, indicates roughly southward motion (∼3 mm/yr) of the Rif Mountains, Morocco, relative to stable Africa. Motion of the Rif is approximately normal to the direction of Africa-Eurasia relative motion, which is predominantly strike slip, and results in shortening of the Rif and subsequent crustal extension of the adjacent Alboran Sea region. The sense, and the N-S asymmetry of the observed deformation (i.e., no evidence for north-directed shortening in the Betic Mountains north of the Alboran Sea) cannot be easily explained in terms of crustal plate interactions, suggesting that dynamic processes below the crust are driving the recent geologic evolution of the western Mediterranean. The model that best fits the observations involves delamination and southward rollback of the African lithospheric mantle under the Alboran and Rif domains.

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