pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 161, Issue 3, pp 489–519 | Cite as

The Alpine Rif Belt (Morocco): A Case of Mountain Building in a Subduction-Subduction-Transform Fault Triple Junction

  • A. Chalouan
  • A. MichardEmail author


—The Rif belt forms with the Betic Cordilleras an asymmetric arcuate mountain belt (Gibraltar Arc) around the Alboran Sea, at the western tip of the Alpine orogen. The Gibraltar Arc consists of an exotic terrane (Alboran Terrane) thrust over the African and Iberian margins. The Alboran Terrane itself includes stacked nappes which originate from an easterly, Alboran-Kabylias-Peloritani-Calabria (Alkapeca) continental domain, and displays Variscan low-grade and high-grade schists (Ghomarides-Malaguides and Sebtides-Alpujarrides, respectively), shallow water Mesozoic sediments (mainly in the Dorsale Calcaire passive margin units), and infracontinental peridotite slices (Beni Bousera, Ronda). During the Late Cretaceous?-Eocene, the Alboran Terrane was likely located south of a SE-dipping Alpine-Betic subduction (cf. Nevado-Filabride HP-LT metamorphism of central-eastern Betics). An incipient collision against Iberia triggered back-thrust tectonics south of the deformed terrane during the Late Eocene-Oligocene, and the onset of the NW-dipping Apenninic-Maghrebian subduction. The early, HP-LT phase of the Sebtide-Alpujarride metamorphism could be hypothetically referred to the Alpine-Betic subduction, or alternatively to the Apenninic-Maghrebian subduction, depending on the interpretation of the geochronologic data set. Both subduction zones merged during the Early Miocene west of the Alboran Terrane and formed a triple junction with the Azores-Gibraltar transform fault. A westward roll back of the N-trending subduction segment was responsible for the Neogene rifting of the internal Alboran Terrane, and for its coeval, oblique docking onto the African and Iberian margins. Seismic evidence of active E-dipping subduction, and opposite paleomagnetic rotations in the Rif and Betic limbs of the Gibraltar Arc support this structurally-based scenario.

Key words:

Alpine belt tectonics orogenic arc terrane collage subduction rollback Western Mediterranean Morocco Betic Cordilleras 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de GéologieFaculté des SciencesMaroc
  2. 2.Ecole Normale SupérieureParis Cedex 05France

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