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Growth fold controls on carbonate distribution in mixed foreland basins: insights from the Amiran foreland basin (NW Zagros, Iran) and stratigraphic numerical modelling


Correspondence: Eduard Saura, Group of Dynamics of the Lithosphere (GDL), Institute of Earth Sciences ‘Jaume Almera’, CSIC, C/Lluís Solé i Sabaris, s/n, 08028, Barcelona, Spain. E-mail:


The evolution from Late Cretaceous to early Eocene of the well dated Amiran foreland basin in the NW Iranian Zagros Mountains is studied based on the reconstruction of successive thickness, palaeobathymetry and subsidence maps. These maps show the progressive forelandwards migration of the mixed carbonate-siliciclastic system associated with a decrease in creation of accommodation. Carbonate facies variations across the basin suggest a structural control on the carbonate distribution in the Amiran foreland basin, which has been used as initial constraint to study the control exerted by syndepositional folding in basin architecture and evolution by means of stratigraphic numerical modelling. Modelled results show that shallow bathymetries on top of growing folds enhance carbonate production and basin compartmentalization. As a consequence, coarse clastics become restricted to the internal parts of the basin and only the fine sediments can by-pass the bathymetric highs generated by folding. Additionally, the development of extensive carbonate platforms on top of the anticlines favours the basinwards migration of the depositional system, which progrades farther with higher fold uplift rates. In this scenario, build-ups on top of anticlines record its growth and can be used as a dating method. Extrapolation of presented modelling results into the Amiran foreland basin is in agreement with an early folding stage in the SE Lurestan area, between the Khorramabad and Kabir Kuh anticlines. This folding stage would enhance the development of carbonate platforms on top of the anticlines, the south-westward migration of the system and eventually, the complete filling of the basin north of the Chenareh anticline at the end of the Cuisian. Incremental thickness maps are consistent with a thin (0.4–2 km) ophiolite complex in the source area of the Amiran basin.