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Keywords:

  • accretionary prism;
  • thermochronology;
  • exhumation;
  • erosion;
  • Pyrenees

[1] In this work we combined apatite fission track and biotite/K-feldspar 40Ar/39Ar ages with tectonic data in the west central part of the Axial Zone of the Pyrenees. We discuss the exhumation ages and rates of the Néouvielle, Bordère-Louron, and Bielsa Variscan granites and their relationships with the timing and sequence of south vergent basement thrusting within the Pyrenean orogenic prism. The 40Ar/39Ar ages on K-feldspars from the Néouvielle massif (sample NV7) seem to indicate tectonic movements on the Eaux-Chaudes thrust during the early middle Eocene. Fission track results suggest that the exhumation of the Néouvielle massif occurred around 35 Ma and exhumation of the Bordère-Louron massif around 32 Ma in relation to thrusting on the Gavarnie thrust. The Bielsa massif was exhumed from around 19 Ma by out-of-sequence movements on the Bielsa thrust. We thus show that whereas most of the Pyrenean basement thrust faults (here the Eaux-Chaudes, Gavarnie, and Guarga thrusts) were active in sequence toward the southern foreland from the early Eocene to the earliest Miocene, some of them (here the Bielsa thrust) were activated out of sequence in the hinterland, later than the generally accepted Aquitanian age for the end of the Pyrenean compression. Finally, the apatite fission track modeling indicate a last cooling episode starting around 5 Ma which is most certainly related to the Pliocene reexcavation of the southern and northern flanks of the Pyrenees.