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Soutenance de thèse de Arjan Grool

Lundi 22 janvier 2018 à 14:00, amphi du CRPG

From rift system to doubly vergent orogen : An evolutionary model based on a case study of the Eastern Pyrenees and controlling factors from numerical models


The doubly vergent nature of some natural orogens is classically understood as two opposing thrust wedges (pro and retro) that comply with critical taper theory. The evidence that retro-wedges and their associated basins behave differently from their pro-wedge counterparts has been steadily increasing over the past few decades. However, what causes an orogen to become doubly vergent is currently not well understood. Nor is the relationship between the pro- and retro-wedge during the evolution of a doubly vergent orogen. It is the aim of this work to improve our understanding of : 1) how the pro- and retro-wedges relate to each other during the orogenic process, 2) what factors control the evolution of a doubly vergent orogen and 3) a possible link between the pro- and retro-wedge.

Answering these questions requires an improved knowledge of the evolution of a doubly vergent orogen. We focussed on the Eastern Pyrenees as a type example of a doubly vergent orogen, due to the large amount of available data. We performed a detailed tectonostratigraphic study of the retro-foreland of the Eastern Pyrenees (European plate), updating the interpretation based on recent insights into its hyperextended rift origins. We link the evolution of the retro-foreland to that of the pro-foreland (Iberian plate) in order to derive insight into the crustal scale dynamics. Based on cross section restoration, reconstructed shortening rates and subsidence analysis, we subdivide the East Pyrenean evolution into four phases. The first (Late Cretaceous) phase is characterised by closure of an exhumed mantle domain between the European and Iberian rifted margins, and simultaneous inversion of a salt-rich, thermally unequilibrated rift system. Shortening was distributed roughly equally between both margins during this early inversion phase. Following inversion, a quiescent phase (Paleocene) was apparently restricted to the retro-foreland. This phase may record the period of transition between inversion and full collision in the Eastern Pyrenees. The main collision phase (Eocene) records the highest shortening rates, which was predominantly accommodated in the pro-wedge. Retro-wedge shortening rates were lower than during the rift inversion phase. During the final phase (Oligocene) the retro-wedge was apparently inactive and shortening of the pro-wedge slowed. This demonstrates that the relationship between the pro- and retro-wedges changes through time.

We used lithosphere-scale thermo-mechanical numerical models to simulate the evolution of a doubly vergent orogen. Our results show a similar evolutionary pattern as observed in the Pyrenees : A roughly symmetrical rift inversion phase is followed by an asymmetric collision phase. Rift inheritance was found to be essential for enabling double vergence. Other factors, such as surface processes and thin-skinned deformation, were found to have a significant effect on the crustal structure and strain partitioning between both wedges. A salt décollement layer in the sedimentary cover promotes the formation of a crustal antiformal stack such as observed in the Pyrenees and Alps by forming a wide and low-taper thin-skinned fold-and-thrust belt that forces crustal deformation to focus in the hinterland. Finally, we show that the evolution of the pro- and retro-wedges is inextricably linked : events or conditions on one side of the doubly vergent orogen have an immediate effect on the other side of the orogen. This is clearly demonstrated in our models by constant variations in shortening rates of the pro- and retro-wedge in response to accretion of new pro-wedge thrust sheets. The High Atlas (Morocco) and Pyrenees can be can be seen as examples of symmetric rift inversion and later asymmetric collision phases, respectively.


Stefan SCHMALHOLZ (Université de Lausanne, Suisse), rapporteur
Nicolas BELLAHSEN (ISTEP, Paris, France), rapporteur
Delphine ROUBY (CNRS, GET, Toulouse, France), examinatrice
Raphaël PIK (CRPG CNRS-UL, Nancy, France), examinateur
Mary FORD (CRPG CNRS-UL, Nancy, France), co-directrice de thèse
Ritske HUISMANS (University of Bergen, Norway), co-directeur de thèse
Michel DE SAINT-BLANQUAT (CNRS, GET, Toulouse, France), invité
Emmanuel MASINI (Total, Pau, France), invité

publié mercredi 10 janvier 2018