The Hercynian structure of the Catalonian Coastel Ranges (NE Spain)



In the Catalonian Coastal Ranges, Paleozoic sedimentary and meta-sedimentary rocks crop out in several areas, intruded by late tectonic Hercynian granitoids and separated by Mesozoic and Tertiary cover sediments. Large structures are often difficult to recognize, although a general east-west trend can be observed on the geological map. Deformation was accompanied by the development of cleavages and regional metamorphism. Green-schist facies rocks are prominent throughout the Ranges, while amphibolite facies are restricted to small areas. In low-grade areas, the main deformation phase generated south-facing folds with an axial plane cleavage (slaty cleavage in metapelitic rocks). The intersection lineation (Ss/Sl) and the axes of minor folds trend cast-west, as do all mapable structures. Late deformations generated coarse crenulations, small chevrons and kink-bands, all intersecting the slaty cleavage at high angles. In medium- to high-grade areas no major folds have been observed. In these areas, the main foliation is a schistosity and is often folded, giving centimetric to decimetric, nearly isoclinal intrafolial folds. In schists, these folds aremuchmore common than inother lithologies, and can be associated with a crenulation cleavage. All these planar structures in high-grade rocks are roughly parallel. The late Hercynian deformational events, which gave rise to the crenulations and small chevrons, also produced large (often kilometric) open folds which fold the slaty cleavage and schistosity. As aconsequence, alternating belts with opposite dip (north and south) of the main foliation were formed. With respect to the Hercynian orogenic belt, the Paleozoic outcrops of the Catalonian Coastal Ranges are located within the northern branch of the Ibero-Armorican arc, and have a relatively frontal position within the belt. The Carboniferous of the Priorat- Prades area, together with other outcrops in the Castellón Province, the Montalbán massif (Iberian Chain) and the Cantabrian zone (specially the Pisuerga-Carrión Province) probably form part of a wide area of foreland Carboniferous deposition placed at the core of the arc.

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