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Coupled mantle dripping and lateral dragging controlling the lithosphere structure of the NW-Moroccan margin and the Atlas Mountains: A numerical experiment

AuthorsZlotnik, Sergio ; Jimenez-Munt, Ivone ; Fernandez, Manel
KeywordsMoroccan margin
Continental passive margin
Atlas Mountains
Lithospheric structure
Numerical modelling
Issue DateOct-2013
CitationLithos - Amsterdam 189: 16-27 (2013)
AbstractRecent studies integrating gravity, geoid, surface heat flow, elevation and seismic data indicate a prominent lithospheric mantle thickening beneath the NW-Moroccan margin (LAB N200 km-depth) followed by thinning beneath the Atlas Domain (LAB about 80 km-depth). Such unusual configuration has been explained by the combination ofmantle underthrusting due to oblique Africa–Eurasia convergence togetherwith viscous dripping fed by asymmetric lateral mantle dragging, requiring a strong crust–mantle decoupling. In the present work we examine the physical conditions underwhich the proposed asymmetricmantle drip and drag mechanismcan reproduce this lithospheric configuration.We also analyse the influence of varying the kinematic boundary conditions aswell as the mantle viscosity and the initial lithosphere geometry. Results indicate that the proposed drip– drag mechanismis dynamically feasible and only requires a lateral variation of the lithospheric strength. The further evolution of the gravitational instability can become either in convective removal of the lithosphericmantle, mantle delamination, or subduction initiation. The model reproduces the main trends of the present-day lithospheric geometry across the NW-Moroccan margin and the Atlas Mountains, the characteristic time of the observed vertical movements, the amplitude and rates of uplift in the Atlas Mountains and offers an explanation to theMiocene to Pliocene volcanism. An abnormal constant tectonic subsidence rate in themargin is predicted
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lithos.2013.10.016
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