Rapid Exhumation in the Alpine Belt of the Betic-Rif (W Mediterranean): Tectonic Extrusion
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—Extreme cooling rates (∼500 °C/m.y.) during the late stage, 22–18 Ma, orogenic evolution of the Alpine Betic-Rif belt are suggested to result from rapid exhumation caused by tectonic extrusion and concomitant extensional tectonics. The extrusional/extensional tectonic setting is controlled by the SW-NE trending break-off scar left in the lithosphere of the Alborán Sea and SE Spain after detachment of a lithospheric slab. The extruded material represents the collisional crustal nappe pile (together with fragments of underlying mantle, such as the Ronda peridotites) and the cause of the extrusion is the thermal softening within the crustal section during and after collision. The extrusion/extension took place under the influence of a NW-SE directed compressive regime, perpendicular to the collisional belt. At the same time the sub-lithospheric mantle still showed the E-W compressive regime of the collisional stage. The Alpine tectono-metamorphic evolution of the Betic-Rif belt in the W Mediterranean thus comprises two main stages: (1) continental collision with formation of primary nappes and high-pressure metamorphic parageneses, (2) tectonic extrusion with vertically directed tectonics (high pressure, very rapid decompression) and extensional tectonics with roughly horizontal, lateral transport and final emplacement of the extruded mélange in the form of a stack of detachment sheets (low pressure, very rapid cooling). This model for the Betic-Rif may offer important constraints to all rapidly exhumed convergent terranes.
Key words:Tectonic extrusion rapid exhumation Alpine Betic-Rif W Mediterranean
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