Casas Sáinz, Antonio and Vicente Muñoz, Gerardo de (2009) On the tectonic origin of Iberian topography. Tectonophysics . ISSN 0040-1951
Official URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00401951
The present-day topography of the Iberian peninsula can be considered as the result of the MesozoicCenozo–ic tectonic evolution of the Iberian plate (including rifting and basin formation during the Mesozoic and compression and mountain building processes at the borders and inner part of the plate, during the Tertiary, followed by Neogene rifting on the Mediterranean side) and surface processes acting during the Quaternary. The northern-central part of Iberia (corresponding to the geological units of the Duero Basin, the Iberian Chain, and the Central System) shows a mean elevation close to one thousand meters above sea level in average, some hundreds of meters higher than the southern half of the Iberian plate. This elevated area corresponds to (i) the top of sedimentation in Tertiary terrestrial endorheic sedimentary basins (Paleogene and Neogene) and (ii) planation surfaces developed on Paleozoic and Mesozoic rocks of the mountain chains surrounding the Tertiary sedimentary basins. Both types of surfaces can be found in continuity along the margins of some of the Tertiary basins. The Bouguer anomaly map of the Iberian peninsula indicates negative anomalies related to thickening of the continental crust. Correlations of elevation to crustal thickness and elevation to Bouguer anomalies indicate that the dierent landscape units within the Iberian plate can be ascribed to dierent patterns: (1) The negative Bouguer anomaly in the Iberian plate shows a rough correlation with elevation, the most important gravity anomalies being linked to the Iberian Chain. (2) Most part of the so-called Iberian Meseta is linked to intermediate-elevation areas with crustal thickening; this pattern can be applied to the two main intraplate mountain chains (Iberian Chain and Central System) (3) The main mountain chains (Pyrenees and Betics) show a direct correlation between crustal thickness and elevation, with higher elevation/crustal thickness ratio for the Central Systemvs. the Betics and the Pyrenees. Other features of the Iberian topography, namely the longitudinal pro le of the main rivers in the Iberian peninsula and the distribution of present-day endorheic areas, are consistent with the Tertiary tectonic evolution and the change from an endorheic to an exorheic regime during the Late Neogene and the Quaternary. Some of the problems involving the timing and development of the Iberian Meseta can be analysed considering the youngest reference level, constituted by the shallow marine Upper Cretaceous limestones, that indicates strong dierences induced by (i) the overall Tertiary and recent compression in the Iberian plate, responsible for dierences in elevation of the reference level of more than 6 km between the mountain chains and the endorheic basins and (ii) the eect of Neogene extension in the Mediterranean margin, responsible for lowering several thousands of meters toward the East and uplift of rift shoulders. A part of the recent uplift within the Iberian plate can be attributed o sostatic uplift in zones of crustal thickening.
|Uncontrolled Keywords:||Iberia, Planation surface, Landscape, Meseta, Crustal thickening, Tectonics|
|Subjects:||Sciences > Geology > Geodynamics|
|Deposited On:||11 Mar 2009 15:40|
|Last Modified:||03 Sep 2010 09:58|
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