Abstract

Interpreting apatite fission-track thermochronology (AFTT) data obtained from orogenic belts presents a considerable challenge because of the complexity of denudational processes operating in this tectonic setting. An approach which integrates kinematic, foliation, and thermochronologic data is advocated, and an example from southern Spain is used as an illustration. AFTT ages from the Sierra Nevada are negatively correlated with their elevation precluding interpretation in terms of simple erosive denudation. However, when additional structural data is included in the analysis, a complex denudation history is obtained. An initial phase of tectonic denudation was responsible for the cooling that produced the oldest apparent ages. Thereafter, folding accompanied by differential erosive denudation caused cooling of samples inferred to have been as much as 4.5 km below the detachment. The second phase of cooling began in the late Miocene–early Pliocene.

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