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Late- to post-orogenic exhumation of the Central Pyrenees revealed through combined thermochronological data and modelling


Hugh Sinclair, School of GeoSciences, Grant Institute, The University of Edinburgh, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JW, UK. E-mail:


Apatite (U–Th)/He and fission track thermochronometry have been combined with 3D thermal modelling to constrain the late- to post-orogenic exhumation history of the Central Pyrenees, Spain. Data from four massifs immediately north and south of the present drainage divide of the mountain belt reveal a diachroneity in the transition from syn- to post-orogenic forcing of exhumation. Immediately south of the drainage divide, rapid exhumation of ∼1.5 mm year−1 decelerated after ∼30 Ma to ∼0.03 mm year−1. A similar transition occurred immediately north of the drainage divide at the same time. Further south, in the core of the Axial Zone antiformal stack of the Pyrenees, rapid (∼1 mm year−1), syn-orogenic exhumation continued to ∼20 Ma, but slowed to ∼0.1–0.2 mm year−1 soon after that time. This order of magnitude decrease in exhumation rates across the orogen records the diachronous transition into a post-orogenic state for the mountain belt. These data do not record rejuvenation of exhumation in Late Miocene or Pliocene times driven either by large-scale base-level change or an evolution to more erosive climatic conditions.