Located at an intermediate position in the External Rif nappe pile, the Temsamane units (northern Morocco) are characterized by an abnormally intense metamorphism and a penetrative ductile deformation. We present new metamorphic data showing that, in spite of their external position in the Rif, part of the Temsamane units underwent medium-pressure low-temperature (MP–LT) metamorphism (at c. 7–9 kbar and 330–430 °C), possibly during the Oligocene. Structural data show that the exhumation of these units, during Middle to Late Miocene times, was characterized by an intense approximately east–west stretching and by top-to-the-west shear senses. We tentatively propose two possible origins for the MP–LT Temsamane units: (1) an internal origin related to the subduction and the HP–LT event recorded in the Internal Rif (Alboran Domain), or (2) an external origin, implying a second subduction system within the External Rif, parallel to and almost contemporaneous with that of the Alboran Domain. This tectonometamorphic evolution of the Temsamane units is set within the context of the External Rif evolution. At a larger scale, we show that the exhumation history of the Temsamane units, which strongly resembles that documented in the core of the internal Betics, is compatible with the westward slab retreat occurring during the Middle to Late Miocene in the Betic–Rif region.

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