The Simply Folded Belt of the Zagros Mountains, Iran, is a spectacularly well-exposed example of a foreland fold and thrust belt. A regional analysis of the Cenomanian–Coniacian Sarvak and Ilam Formations, exposed in the southern Lurestan Province, is presented as a case study for sub-seismic fracture development in this type of compressive setting. The area is characterized by gentle to tight anticlines and synclines parallel to the NW–SE trend of the belt. In the Lurestan Province, the Cenomanian–Coniacian interval is exposed in the core of most of the outcropping anticlines. Fold style is intimately related to both vertical and lateral facies distribution.
Geometry, kinematics and timing of sub-seismic fractures were characterized through extensive fieldwork, interpretation of orthorectified QuickBird imagery and interpretation of 3D photorealistic models derived from LiDAR. Data were collected from 12 anticlines covering an area of approximately 150 × 200 km. Key outcrops for understanding fracture geometry, kinematics and timing are presented.
Field observations and interpretation of QuickBird and 3D photorealistic models reveal the complexity of fracture geometry and timing. Fractures record pre-, syn- and post-folding stages of deformation. Pre-folding structures include synsedimentary normal faults, and subsequent small-scale thrusts, systematic veins and stylolites. During folding, pre-existing fracture planes were re-activated and through-going fractures and reverse faults developed. Strike-slip faults typically postdate pre- and syn-folding structures and are probably related to the late stages of fold tightening. All structures are geometrically and kinematically consistent with the trend of the Arabian passive margin and its subsequent tectonic inversion.