The Betics and Rif cordillera constitute the northern and southern segments of the Gibraltar arc. Two different fold-and-thrust belts, deriving from the South Iberian and Maghrebian paleomargins respectively, developed in front of this orogenic system. By contrast, the Flysch Trough units and the overlying Alboran crustal domain (internal zones), which are situated in the uppermost part of the orogenic wedge, are common to both branches of the arc. The Flyschs Trough units constitute an inactive accretionary prism, derived from a deep elongated trough. From three large-scale profiles and some lithostratigraphic features of the involved sedimentary sequences, the Betic and Rif external domains are compared, mainly from a structural point of view. Although they are generally considered to show major similarities, the Betic and Rif external domains are in fact strikingly different, mainly concerning the structural style, deformation timing and metamorphism: a) the thick-skinned structure in the External Rif domain vs thin-skinned in the Subbetic domain; b) the pre-Oligocene and Miocene stacking in the External Rif domain vs the exclusively Miocene one in the Subbetic domain, and c) the metamorphism present only in part of the External Rif domain (low-grade greenschists facies). By contrast, it was not possible to establish any difference in structural style and deformation timing between the Flysch units outcropping in both branches of the Gibraltar arc.

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