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The Catalan Coastal Ranges (NE part of the Eastern Iberian Margin) correspond to a system of grabens formed at the north-western margin of the Valencia Trough. Extensional activity in the Catalan Coastal Ranges occurred at least from early to late Miocene and reactivated earlier transpressive faults related to the Palaeogene compression. In the central part of the Catalan Coastal Ranges, tectonic micro and macrostructures (faults, joints, stylolites) are well developed in the Mesozoic (mainly Cretaceous) limestones as well as in the Miocene graben fill deposits. In these rocks, seven generations of fractures, which formed during different tectonic phases, have been distinguished. Type 1–4 fractures affect only the Cretaceous limestones, type 5 and 6 fractures the Cretaceous and Miocene deposits, and type 7 fractures only the Miocene sediments. The fractures are filled with calcites, and locally with an internal sediment or a dolomite cement. The Cretaceous host-rock has an average δ18O value of –4·3‰ PDB (Peedee Belemnite), an average δ13C value of +0·6‰ PDB, a 87Sr/86Sr ratio of 0·70741, up to 5630 p.p.m. of Mg2+, up to 2615 p.p.m. of Sr2+, and up to 1560 p.p.m. of Fe2+. Type 2 fractures are related to Palaeogene compression. The calcite cement filling this type of fracture has an average δ18O value of –8·2‰ PDB, an average δ13C value of –0·6‰ PDB, a 87Sr/86Sr ratio of 0·70714, up to 4560 p.p.m. of Mg2+, up to 3275 p.p.m. of Sr2+, and up to 3540 p.p.m. of Fe2+. These results indicate a fluid characterized by a high rock–fluid interaction approaching a closed system equilibrium.

Type 5 fractures are related to the syn-rift stage. The calcite cement filling this type of fracture has an average δ18O value of –6·9‰ PDB, an average δ13C value of –4·3‰ PDB, a 87Sr/86Sr ratio of 0·70787, up to 5375 p.p.m. of Mg2+, up to 1750 p.p.m. of Sr2+ and up to 2855 p.p.m. of Fe2+. These results indicate a fluid characterized by a low rock–fluid interaction and an open hydrogeological system. The cements filling the compressional fractures are characterized by undulose extinction, subgrain formation and deformed mechanical twin planes indicating formation under stressed conditions. In contrast, cements filling extensional fractures are characterized by translucent crystals with uniform extinction, indicating free growth not subjected to stress.