Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 19–36 | Cite as

Recent structures in the Alboran Ridge and Yusuf fault zones based on swath bathymetry and sub-bottom profiling: evidence of active tectonics

  • Pedro Martínez-García
  • Juan I. Soto
  • Menchu Comas


The seafloor of the Alboran Sea in the western Mediterranean is disrupted by deformations resulting from convergence between the African and Eurasian plates. Based on a compilation of existing and new multibeam bathymetry data and high-resolution seismic profiles, our main objective was to characterize the most recent structures in the central sector, which depicts an abrupt morphology and was chosen to investigate how active tectonic processes are shaping the seafloor. The Alboran Ridge is the most prominent feature in the Alboran Sea (>130 km in length), and a key element in the Gibraltar Arc System. Recent uplift and deformation in this ridge have been caused by sub-vertical, strike-slip and reverse faults with associated folding in the most recent sediments, their trend shifting progressively from SW–NE to WNW–ESE towards the Yusuf Lineament. Present-day transtensive deformation induces faulting and subsidence in the Yusuf pull-apart basin. The Alboran Ridge and Yusuf fault zones are connected, and both constitute a wide zone of deformation reaching tens of kilometres in width and showing a complex geometry, including different active fault segments and in-relay folds. These findings demonstrate that Recent deformation is more heterogeneously distributed than commonly considered. A narrow SSW–NNE zone with folding and reverse faulting cuts across the western end of the Alboran Ridge and concentrates most of the upper crustal seismicity in the region. This zone of deformation defines a seismogenic, left-lateral fault zone connected to the south with the Al Hoceima seismic swarm, and representing a potential seismic hazard. Newly detected buried and active submarine slides along the Alboran Ridge and the Yusuf Lineament are clear signs of submarine slope instability in this seismically active region.


Fault Zone Focal Mechanism Seismic Swarm Basin Plain Slide Scar 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was funded by SAGAS CTM2005-08071-03-01/MAR, TOPOMED-CGL2008-03474 and TOPO-IBERIA Consolider-Ingenio 2010 CSD2006-00041 (R&D Plan MICINN and FEDER Founds, Spain), and Research Group RNM215 (PAI Junta de Andalucía, Spain). We wish to thank the technical staff of the UTM, as well as the various scientific parties and the crew of the R/V Hespérides for their assistance in data collection during the ALBA, TECALB and MARSIBAL I-06 cruises. Thanks also go to Marcel·lí Farran for helping us to collect analogic data. English expression was polished by I. MacCandless. This paper benefited from the comprehensive reviews of J. Bourgois, K. Reicherter and A. Maldonado, and constructive comments by the journal editors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pedro Martínez-García
    • 1
  • Juan I. Soto
    • 2
  • Menchu Comas
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra (CSIC and University of Granada), Facultad de CienciasGranadaSpain
  2. 2.Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra (CSIC and University of Granada) and Departamento de Geodinámica, Facultad de CienciasGranadaSpain

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