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The Grès Singuliers of the Mont Blanc region (France and Switzerland): stratigraphic response to rifting and crustal necking in the Alpine Tethys

Abstract

The Grès Singuliers unit represents an anomalous occurrence of a siliciclastic-dominated sedimentary system typifying a restricted geographic area around the Mont Blanc massif. Deposited during Early Jurassic rifting, this unit was influenced by the tectonic processes responsible for its development. This contribution integrates and reconciles sedimentological, stratigraphic and tectonic data and discusses the tectono-sedimentary evolution of the Mont Blanc basement and its autochthonous sedimentary cover. Based on depositional facies, a petrographic and detrital zircon provenance analysis, we propose that the Grès Singuliers unit is mainly derived from erosion of the local basement and pre-rift sedimentary cover. Furthermore, recognition of Jurassic cataclasites and black gouges capping the Mont Blanc basement confirms the hypothesis that the Mont Blanc domain formed an extensional core complex. The source to sink relationship between the Mont Blanc detachment system and the Grès Singuliers unit, as well as timing and location within the Alpine rift system, allows us to interpret this unit as the syn-tectonic sedimentary response to crustal necking, responsible for the onset of localized severe crustal/lithospheric thinning in the European margin of the Alpine Tethys rift system. The main result of this study was to show that the exhumation and uplift of basement during crustal/lithospheric necking produced a new source area for clastic sedimentary systems. Therefore, the local occurrence of a siliciclastic unit similar to the Grès Singuliers along passive margins may be symptomatic of necking zones in other rift systems.

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Copyright Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia)

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by ExxonMobil as part of the CEIBA (Centre of Excellence in Basin Analysis) project. Patricio H. Figueredo and Christopher A. Johnson from ExxonMobil are thanked for valuable discussions on several aspects of this article. We thank H. Masson and J. L. Epard for their enthusiasm to share knowledge about the Mont Blanc region. CR thanks S. Triboulet for her wonderful thesis notebooks. J. Tugend, G. Mohn and E. Masini are warmly thanked for fruitful discussions. The seismic section from line GA199-09 has been provided by Geoscience Australia after personal request and is published with the permission of Geoscience Australia.

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Ribes, C., Ghienne, JF., Manatschal, G. et al. The Grès Singuliers of the Mont Blanc region (France and Switzerland): stratigraphic response to rifting and crustal necking in the Alpine Tethys. Int J Earth Sci (Geol Rundsch) 109, 2325–2352 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00531-020-01902-z

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Keywords

  • Syn-rift
  • Alpine Tethys margin
  • Mont Blanc massif
  • Grès Singuliers
  • Necking