The North Pyrenean Zone corresponds to the palaeopassive margin of the North Iberia plate, at the foot of which subcontinental mantle was exhumed during Albian times. Rare bodies of exhumed mantle rocks associated with strongly sheared lenses of continental crust are scattered among the North Pyrenean Zone metasediments. Significant fluid flow occurred along a major décollement at the basement–Trias interface in the Urdach massif (Chaînons Béarnais). Fluids with a broad range of salinity (10–38 wt.% NaCl equiv.), indicative of mixing between brines and more dilute waters, produced strong silicification of breccias. The brines circulated at c. 240–280°C under lithostatic pressures at c. 6 ± 1 km depth. The fluids became increasingly saline towards the final stages. The syndeposition of Cenomano-Turonian flysch layers then progressively isolated the lower aquifers close to the décollement where Triassic brines were predominant. The release and migration of significant volumes of brines during stretching and squeezing of the Triassic evaporites played a crucial part in the mineralogical and rheological transformations that occurred during the Pyrenean Cretaceous rifting event.

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