Abstract

The Cévennes are bordering the French Massif Central and the Gulf of Lion margin. The morphogenesis of this area results from an interaction between deep-seated and superficial processes, whose origin and timing is still discussed. We attempt a reconstruction of the surrection and erosion history of the area through a multidisciplinary approach including geology, geomorphology, thermochronology and geochronology. Thermochronology shows that the Cévennes basement underwent some 2 km denudation in mid-Cretaceous time. Analyses of the sediments preserved on uplifted surfaces and in peripheral sedimentary basins indicate a differential surface uplift of the Cevennes, of the surrounding calcareous plateaus, and of the coastal plain, that occurred in several stages during the Tertiary. Early Miocene rifting of the Gulf of Lion margin and opening of the NW Mediterranean drastically modified the drainage network. Geomorphology analyses of the incised rivers and karst network suggest that most of the incision results from uplift that occurred sometime in the Serravalian-Tortonian interval. U/Th dating of calcite concretions in karsts allows to chronologically bracket the formation of some fluvial terraces, and to find very low incision rates during the Pleistocene. Most of the morphogenesis predates the Quaternary. This ongoing study shows an example of polyphased and very slow morphogenesis, with present-day landscape including elements as old as Cretaceous.

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