Origin of the Betic-Rif mountain belt
Article first published online: 26 JUL 2010
Copyright 1997 by the American Geophysical Union.
Volume 16, Issue 3, pages 504–522, June 1997
How to Cite
1997), Origin of the Betic-Rif mountain belt, Tectonics, 16(3), 504–522, doi:10.1029/96TC03937., and (
- Issue published online: 26 JUL 2010
- Article first published online: 26 JUL 2010
- Manuscript Accepted: 14 DEC 1996
- Manuscript Received: 29 MAR 1996
In recent years, the origin of the Betic-Rif orocline has been the subject of considerable debate. Much of this debate has focused on mechanisms required to generate rapid late-orogenic extension with coeval shortening. Here we summarize the principal geological and geophysical observations and propose a model for the Miocene evolution of the Betic-Rif mountain belts, which is compatible with the evolution of the rest of the western Mediterranean. We regard palaeomagnetic data, which indicate that there have been large rotations about vertical axes, and earthquake data, which show that deep seismicity occurs beneath the Alboran Sea, to be the most significant data sets. Neither data set is satisfactorily accounted for by models which invoke convective removal or delamination of lithospheric mantle. Existing geological and geophysical observations are, however, entirely consistent with the existence of a subduction zone which rolled or peeled back until it collided with North Africa. We suggest that this ancient subducting slab consequently split into two fragments, one of which has continued to roll back, generating the Tyrrhenian Sea and forming the present-day Calabrian Arc. The other slab fragment rolled back to the west, generating the Alboran Sea and the Betic-Rif orocline during the early to middle Miocene.