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Sand composition in an Iberian passive-margin fluvial course: the Tajo River

Le Pera, E. and Arribas Mocoroa, José (2004) Sand composition in an Iberian passive-margin fluvial course: the Tajo River. Sedimentary Geology, 171 . pp. 261-281. ISSN 0037-0738

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Abstract

The Tajo River, the 10th largest river in Europe, drains part of the western passive margin of Europe that includes multiple
tectonic elements of the Iberian plate. Modern fluvial sand composition in the Tajo River drainage basin reflects the nature of
the source region, which lies in the central part of the Iberian Peninsula. Four fluvial petrographic provinces (A, B, C and D) can
be established in the Tajo drainage basin, corresponding well with the four principal structural units drained: (1) the Iberian
Range; (2) the Hesperian massif; (3) The Tertiary Tajo basin; and (4) the Neogene Santarem–Lisboa basin.
Province A corresponds to the Tajo River head and is characterized by quartzolithic sedimenticlastic sands (Qm67F4Lt29 and
Rs79Rg3Rm18). These sands have been derived from diverse Mesozoic siliciclastics and carbonates of the Iberian Range.
Province B appears in the upper reaches of the Tajo River course and is quartzofeldspathic (Qm57F34Lt9) with diverse rock
fragments (Rs34Rg23Rm43). Sources are Hercynian granitoids and metasediments and Neogene clastics and minor carbonates of
the Tertiary Tajo basin. Province C extends along the middle course of the Tajo River with quartzofeldspathic metamorphiclastic
sand modes (Qm60F33Lt7; Rs4Rg21Rm75). The sources are metamorphic rocks intruded by plutonites of the Hesperian Massif.
Province D is quartzofeldspathic (Qm55F39Lt6) with a dominance of phaneritic rock fragments (Rs5Rg33Rm62) and corresponds
to the lower reaches of the Tajo River, where siliciclastic deposits of the Neogene Santarem–Lisboa basin are the main sources.
Sands plot on provenance-discrimination diagram (QmFLt) within the recycled-orogen field (Tajo River head) and continentalblock
fields (upper, middle and lower course). In addition, we have proven the usefulness of the RsRgRm diagram to discriminate
the defined fluvial provinces, originating from heterogeneous parent-rock textures and mineralogy.
Climate does not exert any strong influence on the petrogenesis of the Tajo River drainage basin sand, and erosion in the
source areas may be described in terms of weathering-limited denudation regime. By contrast, mixing with tributary supplies is
the main process that modifies composition in the Tajo River sand. The establishment of fluvial provinces related to the main
bedrock structural units reflects the great relevance of tributaries from each province in the generation of the Tajo River sand
and the low significance of inherited sandy load from previous provinces. The abundance of granitoid rock fragments (RsRgRm%Rg) in fluvial sand of both tributaries and main channel of the
Tajo River drainage basin faithfully represents the relative abundance of granodiorite+monzogranite bedrock exposure in
each subbasin. Metasedimentary and metamorphic bedrock outcrop area is overrepresented by metamorphic rock
fragments (RsRgRm%Rm) in both sand from tributaries and from the Tajo main trunk river. This is manifested by
differences of 18–23% between means of metasedimentary outcrop area and the RsRgRm%Rm mean in the sand from
Provinces B and C+D, respectively. Sedimentary (mainly carbonate) outcrop area is underrepresented or not represented
by sedimentary rock fragments (RsRgRm%Rs) in sand of the Tajo River. This underrepresentation causes a difference
between means of sedimentary outcrop area and the RsRgRm%Rs mean of 21%, 17.1% and 10.7% in sands from
Province A, B and C+D, respectively. This fact confirms the rapid loss of these grains during transport because of their
labile nature.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Sand; Petrofacies; Tajo River; Provenance; Fluvial basin
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Petrology
ID Code:12754
Deposited On:20 May 2011 10:25
Last Modified:02 Jun 2011 11:02

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