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Crustal Imbrication in an Alpine Intraplate Mountain Range: A Wide-Angle Cross-Section Across the Spanish-Portuguese Central System

AuthorsDeFelipe, Irene CSIC ORCID CVN ; Ayarza, P.; Palomeras, Imma; Ruiz Fernández, Mario CSIC ORCID ; Andrés, Juvenal CSIC ORCID ; Alcalde, Juan CSIC ORCID ; Martínez-Poyatos, David; González Lodeiro, Francisco; Yenes, Mariano; Elez, J.; Pérez-Cáceres, Irene CSIC ORCID; Torné, Montserrat CSIC ORCID ; Carbonell, Ramón CSIC ORCID
Issue DateJul-2022
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
American Geophysical Union
European Geosciences Union
CitationTectonics 41(7): e2021TC007143 (2022)
AbstractIntraplate ranges are topographic features that can occur far from plate boundaries, the expected position of orogens as described in the plate tectonics theory. To understand the lithospheric structure of intraplate ranges, we focused on the Spanish-Portuguese Central System (SPCS), the most outstanding topographic feature in the central Iberian Peninsula. The SPCS is an Alpine range that exhumes Precambrian-Paleozoic rocks and is located at >200 km from the northern border of the Iberian microplate. Here, we provide a P-wave velocity model based on wide-angle seismic reflection/refraction data of the central SPCS (Gredos sector). Our results show: (a) a layered lithosphere characterized by three major interfaces: Conrad, Mohorovicic, and Hales discontinuities, (b) an asymmetry of the crust-mantle boundary under the SPCS, (c) the extent of the Variscan batholith forming the main outcrops of Gredos, and (d) the thinning of the lower crust toward the south. This model suggests that the exhumation of the SPCS basement was driven by a south-vergent thick-skinned thrust system, developed in the southern part of the SPCS and that promoted crustal imbrication and a Mohorovicic discontinuity's offset under the SPCS. Thus, the deformation mechanisms of the crust seem to be controlled by the presence of the late- to post-Variscan granitoids that assimilated the Variscan mid-crustal detachment creating a new rheological boundary. This tectonic structure allowed the formation of Alpine crustal-scale thrust systems that eased coupled deformation of the upper and lower crust, leading to limited underthrusting of both crustal layers.
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