Mountain chains in the interior of continents are formed by crustal and mantle mechanisms that often differ from those operating at plate boundaries. The Atlas system of north Africa can be regarded as a type example of intracontinental chains. Previous studies by our team in the Moroccan High Atlas focused on the structural geology of the east-central segment of the chain, and resulted on the construction of a series of balanced geological transects. Restoration of the cross-section reveals that orogenic shortening is moderate, and that shortening decreases to the west along the range, while topography increases. This poses a problem on the origin of topography (with summints exceeding 4000 m), as crustal shortening and thickening cannot explain the observed elevation. Abundant neogene to quaternary volcanism, together with geophysical indications of a thin lithosphere in the Atlas system, suggest a mantle origin for relief. To shed ligh on this subject we plan an integrated geological-gravimetric study to reveal crustal thicknesses and the chronology of the tectonic and topographic development of the Atlas mountains. With this aim we will also carry out a study of the tectonosedimentay evolution of the peripheral Tadla and Ouarzazate basins which are the only ones that preserve synorogenic cenozoic sediments recording these developments. We also plan a thermochronologic study based on fission-track analysis in minerals from some igneous massifs of the High Atlas, in order to date the exhumation processes. We intend to elaborate a geodynamic evolutionary model accounting for the crustal (tectonic thickening) and mantle (thermal isostasy and dynamic topography) contribution to the uplift of this intraplate region
|Effective start/end date
|15/11/03 → 14/11/06
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