Abstract

The seaward extension of onshore formations and structures were previously almost unknown in Provence. The interpretation of 2D high-resolution marine seismic profiles together with the integration of sea-bottom rock samples provides new insights into the stratigraphic, structural and paleogeographic framework of pre-Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC) deposits of the Provence continental shelf. Seven post-Jurassic seismic units have been identified on seismic profiles, mapped throughout the offshore Provence area and correlated with the onshore series. The studied marine surface and sub-surface database provided new insights into the mid and late Cretaceous paleogeography and structural framework as well as into the syn- and post-rift deformation in Provence. Thick (up to 2000 m) Aptian-Albian series whose deposition is controlled by E-W-trending faults are evidenced offshore. The occurrence and location of the Upper Cretaceous South-Provence basin is confirmed by the thick (up to 1500 m) basinal series downlaping the Aptian-Albian unit. This basin was fed in terrigenous sediments by a southern massif (“Massif Méridional”) whose present-day relict is the Paleozoic basement and its sedimentary cover from the Sicié imbricate. In the bay of Marseille, thick syn-rift (Rupelian to Aquitanian) deposition occurred (>1000 m). During the rifting phase, syn-sedimentary deformations consist of dominant N040 to N060 sub-vertical faults with a normal component and N050 drag-synclines and anticlines. The syn-rift and early post-rift units (Rupelian to early Burdigalian) are deformed and form a set of E-W-trending en echelon folds that may result from sinistral strike-slip reactivation of N040 to N060 normal faults during a N-S compressive phase of early-to-mid Burdigalian age (18–20 Ma). Finally, minor fault reactivation and local folding affect post-rift deposits within a N160-trending corridor localized south of La Couronne, and could result from a later, post-Burdigalian and pre-Pliocene compressive phase.

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