Abstract

Subduction comes to an end when all oceanic lithosphere is consumed and continental or transitional crust, with positive buoyancy, becomes involved. During continental collision, the final stage of subduction may be characterized by slab breakoff, limited continental subduction, and delamination below the fold-and-thrust belt. We report receiver function images, constructed from a dense array of seismic broadband stations, that reveal the underthrusting of Iberia beneath the Alboran plate. The underthrusted crust is delaminating beneath part of the Betic mountain range, still connected to the foreland lithosphere on one side, and interrupted discontinuously along the other side. Intermediate deep earthquakes associated with the delamination process do not respond to downdip stresses like subduction earthquakes. The GPS velocity field and source mechanisms for shallow earthquakes demonstrate ongoing active shortening on top of the hinge of delamination, and localized perpendicular extension on top of the edge of delamination, introducing independent motion of the overriding crustal block. Delamination beneath the Betic Range drives seismicity by inducing fundamental changes in deformation patterns within the collision orogen.

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