Arc-parallel vs back-arc extension in the Western Gibraltar arc: Is the Gibraltar forearc still active?
Extremely tight arcs, framed within the Eurasia-Africa convergence region, developed during the Neogene on
both sides of the western Mediterranean. A complex interplate deformation zone has been invoked to explain their structural trend-line patterns, the shortening directions and the development of back-arc basins. Updated structural and kinematic maps, combined with earthquake data covering the complete hinge zone of the western Gibraltar arc help us to explore the mode of strain partitioning from 25My ago to present. During the Miocene, the strain partitioning pattern showed arc-perpendicular shortening in the active orogenic wedge –assessed from the radial pattern of tectonic transport directions– accompained by subhorizontal stretching. Structures accommodating stretching fall into two categories on the basis of their space distribution and their relationships with the structural trend-line pattern: i) arc-parallel stretching structures in the external wedge (mainly normal faults and conjugate strike-slip faults); and ii) extensional faults developed in the hinterland zone in which transport directions are centripetal towards the Alborán back-arc basin. Pliocene to Recent deformational structures together with focal solutions from crustal earthquakes (n=167; 1.5<Mw<6.3) support that this strain partitioning pattern still occurs. By contrast, the eastern end zones of the western Gibraltar arc, especially during the last 5My, underwent intense transpression tectonics with a NW to NNW main shortening axis. These results agree with a still active Gibraltar forearc, governed by westward migrating subduction retreat or subcontinental mantle delamination.
The commercial rights of the printed and online versions of Geologica Acta are property of the UB, ICTJA, IDAEA and UAB, and Geologica Acta must be cited for any partial or full reproduction.
The opinions and conclusions stated in each article are the exclusive responsability of the authors and do not necessarily coincide with those of the above mentioned institutions UB, ICTJA, IDAEA and UAB.
Authors retain the copyright on their papers (accepted manuscript, uncorrected proof and published paper) and are authorized to post them on their own Web page or their institutional repositories. In all cases, the complete citation and a link to the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) of the article must be included.
The authors can use excerpts or reproduce illustrations of their papers in other works without prior permission of Geologica Acta provided the source of the paper including the complete citation is fully acknowledged.
Papers are distributed under the Attribution-Share Alike Creative Commons License. This license allows others to alter, remix or build upon a paper and the resulting work may be distributed under the same or similar license to this one.