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Evolution of the continental margin of southern Spain and the Alboran Sea

January 1, 1980

Seismic reflection profiles and magnetic intensity measurements were collected across the southern continental margin of Spain and the Alboran basin between Spain and Africa. Correlation of the distinct seismic stratigraphy observed in the profiles to stratigraphic information obtained from cores at Deep Sea Drilling Project site 121 allows effective dating of tectonic events. The Alboran Sea basin occupies a zone of motion between the African and Iberian lithospheric plates that probably began to form by extension in late Miocene time (Tortonian). At the end of Miocene time (end of Messinian) profiles show that an angular unconformity was cut, and then the strata were block faulted before subsequent deposition. The erosion of the unconformity probably resulted from lowering of Mediterranean sea level by evaporation when the previous channel between the Mediterranean and Atlantic was closed. Continued extension probably caused the block faulting and, eventually the opening of the present channel to the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar and the reflooding of the Mediterranean. Minor tectonic movements at the end of Calabrian time (early Pleistocene) apparently resulted in minor faulting, extensive transgression in southeastern Spain, and major changes in the sedimentary environment of the Alboran basin. Active faulting observed at five locations on seismic profiles seems to form a NNE zone of transcurrent movement across the Alboran Sea. This inferred fault trend is coincident with some bathymetric, magnetic and seismicity trends and colinear with active faults that have been mapped on-shore in Morocco and Spain. The faults were probably caused by stresses related to plate movements, and their direction was modified by inherited fractures in the lithosphere that floors the Alboran Sea.

Publication Year 1980
Title Evolution of the continental margin of southern Spain and the Alboran Sea
DOI 10.1016/0025-3227(80)90087-0
Authors William P. Dillon, James M. Robb, H. Gary Greene, Juan Carlos Lucena
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine Geology
Index ID 70012611
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coastal and Marine Geology Program; Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center