Abstract

Structural investigations reveal intense and heterogeneous deformation of the sedimentary cover attached to the basement complex of the southern Argentera and Barrot massifs (southernmost External Basement Massifs of the French Alps). Permian and early Triassic syn-depositional extensional tectonics imparted a tilted block pattern to the massifs. An early Miocene first stage of Alpine compression caused pervasive cleavage. This cleavage was controlled by the former pre-existing faults but is nevertheless consistent with NNE contraction. Where regional shortening is orthogonal to the trend of pre-existing faults the pervasive deformation produced either irrotational compressional strain (where no fault inversion occurred), or rotational compressional strain involving syn-cleavage shearing (where faults with favorable paleo-dip were inverted). Where the shortening direction is oblique to the paleo-fault trends, a component of strike-slip movement may locally prevail. A 22 %, N020o directed horizontal shortening, of 11 km, has been calculated based on deformed sedimentary markers in the Permian series and parallel folds in Lower Triassic quartzite. A shallower deformation as brittle reverse faults postdates the cleavage at the southwestern tip of the Argentera Massif and accounts for 4 km of extra shortening. Both types of deformation are connected at depth to a crustal blind thrust system and the Argentera Massif is over-thrust to the south-southwest. The observed strain indicates the Argentera Massif area underwent, from earliest Miocene to Present, a NNE to N rotating compression at distance from the left-lateral southwestern boundary of the Adria block.

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