International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 104, Issue 2, pp 419–434 | Cite as

Extensional salt tectonics in the partially inverted Cotiella post-rift basin (south-central Pyrenees): structure and evolution

  • Berta López-Mir
  • Josep Anton Muñoz
  • Jesús García-Senz
Original Paper


The Cotiella Massif in the south-central Pyrenees hosts upper Cretaceous gravity-driven extensional faults which were developed in the Bay of Biscay–Pyrenean paleorift margin of the Atlantic Ocean. They accommodate up to 6 km of post-rift carbonates above relict upper Triassic salt. Subsequent Pyrenean contractional deformation preserved the main extensional features, but most of the upper Triassic salt was expulsed and then dissolved, leaving little indications of the original salt volume. Nonetheless, several distinctive salt-related features are still recognizable both at outcrop and at basin scale, providing an exposed analogue for salt-floored extensional basins developed on passive margins. Based on field research, we re-interpret the tectonic evolution of the area and suggest that passive diapirs were coeval with gravity-driven extension during the development of the Cotiella basin. The given interpretations are supported with detailed geological maps, original structural data, cross sections and outcrop photographs. The discovery of previously unknown post-rift salt structures in the Cotiella Massif is an extra element to consider in the paleogeographic reconstructions of the upper Cretaceous passive margin of the Bay of Biscay–Pyrenean realm and consequently helps in our understanding of the evolution of current Atlantic-type margins.


Cotiella basin Pyrenees Post-rift basin Salt tectonics Extensional diapirs Passive margins 


  1. Aschoff JL, Giles KA (2005) Salt diapir-influenced, shallow marine sediment dispersal patterns: insights from outcrop analogs. Am Assoc Pet Geol Bull 89(4):1–23. doi:10.1306/10260404016 Google Scholar
  2. Beaumont C, Muñoz JA, Hamilton J, Fullsack P (2000) Factors controlling the Alpine evolution of the central Pyrenees inferred from a comparison of observations and geodynamical models. J Geophys Res 105(B4):8121–8145. doi:10.1029/1999JB900390 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Booler JP, Tucker ME (2002) Distribution and geometry of facies and early diagenesis: the key to accommodation space variation and sequence stratigraphy: Upper Cretaceous Congost Carbonate Platform, Spanish Pyrenees. Sediment Geol 146(3–4):225–247. doi:10.1016/S0037-0738(01)00120-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Caus E, Gómez-Garrido A, Simó A, Soriano K (1993) Cenomanian–Turonian platform to basin integrated stratigraphy in the south Pyrenees (Spain). Cretac Res 14(4–5):531–551. doi:10.1006/cres.1993.1038 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. García-Senz J (2002) Cuencas extensivas del Cretácico inferior en los Pirineos centrales, formación y subsecuente inversión. Dissertation, University of BarcelonaGoogle Scholar
  6. García-Senz J, Ramírez JI (1997) Mapa geológico de España 1:50.000 (2ª serie), Hoja 213, Pont de Suert. Instituto Geológico y Minero de España, MadridGoogle Scholar
  7. Garrido-Megías A (1973) Estudio geológico y relación entre tectónica y sedimentación del Secundario y Terciario de la vertiente meridional pirenaica en su zona central (provincias de Huesca y Lérida). Dissertation, University of GranadaGoogle Scholar
  8. Giles KA, Lawton TF (2002) Halokinetic sequence stratigraphy adjacent to the El Papalote Diapir, Northeastern Mexico. Am Assoc Pet Geol Bull 86(5):823–840. doi:10.1306/61EEDBAC-173E-11D7-8645000102C1865D Google Scholar
  9. Giles KA, Rowan MG (2011) Concepts in halokinetic sequence deformation and stratigraphy. In: Alsop GI et al. (eds) Salt tectonics, sedimentation and prospectivity. Geological Society of London, Special Publication, 363:7–31. doi:10.1144/SP363.2
  10. Hudec MR, Jackson MPA (2011) The salt mine: a digital atlas of salt tectonics. The University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology, Udden Book Series no. 5, American Association of Petroleum Geologists Memoir 99Google Scholar
  11. Jammes S, Manatschal G, Lavier L, Masini E (2009) Tectonosedimentary evolution related to extreme crustal thinning ahead of a propagating ocean: example of the Western Pyrenees. Tectonics 28(4):TC4012. doi:10.1029/2008TC002406
  12. Jammes S, Huismans R, Muñoz JA (2013) Lateral variation in structural style of mountain building: controls of rheological and rift inheritance. Terra Nova 1–7. doi:10.1111/ter.12087
  13. Lagabrielle Y, Labaume P, Saint Blanquat M (2010) Mantle exhumation, crustal denudation, and gravity tectonics during cretaceous rifting in the Pyrenean Realm (SW Europe): insights from the geological setting of the Lherzolite bodies. Tectonics 29(4):TC4012. doi:10.1029/2009TC002588
  14. López-Mir B (2013) Extensional salt tectonics in the Cotiella post-rift basin (south-central Pyrenees): 3D structure and evolution. Dissertation, University of BarcelonaGoogle Scholar
  15. Losantos M, Berástegui X, Muñoz JA, Puigdefàbregas C (1988) Corte geológico cortical del Pirineo Central (perfil ECORS): Evolución geodinámica de la cordillera pirenaica. Simposio sobre: Cinturones Orogénicos. Sociedad geológica de España, Spain, pp 7–16Google Scholar
  16. Martínez-Peña MB (1991) La estructura del límite occidental de la Unidad Surpirenaica Central. Dissertation, University of ZaragozaGoogle Scholar
  17. Martínez-Peña MB, Casas-Sainz AM (2003) Cretaceous-tertiary tectonic inversion of the Cotiella Basin (Southern Pyrenees, Spain). Int J Earth Sci 92(1):99–113. doi:10.1007/s00531-002-0283-x Google Scholar
  18. Masini E, Manatschal G, Tugend J, Mohn G, Flament JM (2014) The tectono-sedimentary evolution of a hyper-extended rift basin: the example of the Arzacq-Mauléon rift system (Western Pyrenees, SW France). Int J Earth Sci 103(6):1569–1596. doi:10.1007/s00531-014-1023-8
  19. McClay K, Muñoz JA, García-Senz J (2004) Extensional salt tectonics in a contractional orogen: a newly identified tectonic event in the Spanish Pyrenees. Geology 32(9):737–740. doi:10.1130/G20565.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mey JJA, Nagtegaal PJC, Roberti KJ, Hartevelt JJA (1968) Lithostratigraphic subdivision of posthercynian deposits in the south-central Pyrenees, Spain. Leidse Geol Meded 41:221–228Google Scholar
  21. Misch P (1934) La estructura tectónica de la región central de los Pirineos meridionales [Translation by Llarena JG (1934) Der Bau der mittleren S’idpyrenaen. Berlin]. Publicaciones extranjeras sobre la geología de España IV, pp 3–180Google Scholar
  22. Muñoz JA (1992) Evolution of a continental collision belt: ECORS-Pyrenees crustal balanced cross-section. In: McClay KR (ed) Thrust tectonics. Chapman and Hall, London, pp 235–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Muñoz JA (2002) Alpine tectonics I, the Pyrenees. In: Gibbons W, Moreno T (eds) The geology of Spain. Geological Society, London, pp 370–385Google Scholar
  24. Muñoz JA, Beamud E, Fernández O, Arbués P, Dinarès-Turell J, Poblet J (2013) The Ainsa Fold and thrust oblique zone of the Central Pyrenees: kinematics of a curved contractional system from paleomagnetic and structural data. Tectonics 32(5):1142–1175. doi:10.1002/tect.20070 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Oliva-Urcia B, Casas AM, Soto R, Villalaín JJ, Kodama K (2011) A transtensional basin model for the Organyà basin (central southern Pyrenees) based on magnetic fabric and brittle structures. Geophys J Int 184(1):111–130. doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2010.04865.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Reynolds AD (1987) Tectonically controlled fluvial sedimentation in the south Pyrenean foreland basin. Dissertation, University of LiverpoolGoogle Scholar
  27. Ríos-Aragües LM, Lanaja JM, Frutos E (1982) Mapa geológico de España 1:50.000 (2ª serie), Hoja 179, Bielsa. Instituto Geológico y Minero de España, MadridGoogle Scholar
  28. Robador A, Zamorano M (1999) Mapa geológico de España 1:50.000 (2ª serie), Hoja 212, Campo. Instituto Geológico y Minero de España, MadridGoogle Scholar
  29. Roca E, Muñoz JA, Ferrer O, Ellouz N (2011) The role of the Bay of Biscay Mesozoic extensional structure in the configuration of the Pyrenean orogen: constraints from the MARCONI deep seismic reflection survey. Tectonics 30(2):TC2001. doi:10.1029/2010TC002735
  30. Rosenbaum G, Lister GS, Duboz C (2002) Relative motions of Africa, Iberia and Europe during Alpine orogeny. Tectonophysics 359(1–2):117–129. doi:10.1016/S0040-1951(02)00442-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rouby D, Raillard S, Guillocheau F, Bouroullec R, Nalpas T (2002) Kinematics of a growth fault/raft system on the west African margin using 3-D restoration. J Struct Geol 24(4):783–796. doi:10.1016/S0191-8141(01)00108-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sans M, Muñoz JA, Vergés J (1996) Triangle zone and thrust wedge geometries related to evaporitic horizons. Bull Can Pet Geol 44(2):375–384Google Scholar
  33. Séguret M (1972) Étude tectonique des nappes et séries décollées de la partie centrale du versant sud des Pyrénées. Publications USTELA, Série Géeologie Structuralle 2, MontpellierGoogle Scholar
  34. Souquet P (1967) Le Cretacé superieur sud-pyrénéenne en Catalogne, Aragon et Navarre. Dissertation, University of ToulouseGoogle Scholar
  35. Tavani S, López-Mir B, Muñoz JA (in press) Extensional fold-related sub-seismic fracturing in the Armeña rollover (Pyrenees). Ital J Geosci 12/2014Google Scholar
  36. Teixell A, García-Senz J (1994) Mapa geológico de España 1:50.000 (2ª serie), Hoja 288, Fonz. Instituto Geológico y Minero de España, MadridGoogle Scholar
  37. Teixell A, Muñoz JA (2000) Evolución tectonosedimentaria del Pirineo meridional durante el Terciario: una síntesis basada en la transversal del río Noguera Ribagorçana. Revista de la Sociedad Geológica de España 13(2):251–264Google Scholar
  38. Tugend J, Manatschal G, Kusznir NJ, Masini E, Mohn G, Thinon I (2014) Formation and deformation of hyperextended rift systems: insights from rift domain mapping in the Bay of Biscay-Pyrenees. Tectonics 33:1239. doi:10.1002/2014TC003529 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Berta López-Mir
    • 1
  • Josep Anton Muñoz
    • 2
  • Jesús García-Senz
    • 3
  1. 1.CASPCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Departament de Geodinàmica i Geofísica, Facultat de Geologia, Institut GeomodelsUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Instituto Geológico y Minero de España (IGME)Tres Cantos, MadridSpain

Personalised recommendations