The influence of intrabasinal tectonics in the stratigraphic evolution of piggyback basin fills: Towards a model from the Tremp-Graus-Ainsa Basin (South-Pyrenean Zone, Spain)

Emmanuelle Chanvry*, Rémy Deschamps, Philippe Joseph, Cai Puigdefàbregas, Miquel Poyatos-Moré, Josep Serra-Kiel, Daniel Garcia, Stéphane Teinturier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Piggyback basins often display asymmetric sedimentary successions influenced by both regional and local syn-depositional tectonic structures. There are few examples where a complete exhumed piggyback basin fill can be analyzed, from proximal, close to source areas, to the distal deep-water sinks. The study of these basins is a key to extract the stratigraphic signal of intrabasinal tectonics, which often competes and can even overprint other controlling factors such as eustasy, climate, or autogenic processes. The purpose of this paper is to propose a more detailed model of the evolution of piggyback basin fills, which recognizes the influence of intrabasinal tectonic activity, specific to the piggyback context and the resulting stratigraphic architecture. We investigate the Tremp-Graus-Ainsa piggyback basin, located in the southern Pyrenees, during early Eocene, which was influenced by the development of the Montsec frontal thrust. Twenty four stratigraphic sections, totaling 14 km of logged thickness, are analyzed, covering 60 km of the basin. The stratigraphic surfaces have been correlated in order to define large-scale stratigraphic units and a new sequence stratigraphic framework. The influence of local tectonics in the basin record is identified by abrupt lateral sediment thickness variations, abrupt changes of depositional environments, local erosion surfaces, and changes in dominant sedimentary process regimes and paleocurrent directions through space and time. As a result, we propose a new tectono-stratigraphic model for the development of the Tremp-Graus-Ainsa Basin. Specifically, we identify (1) an underfilled stage with initial high flexural subsidence and a frontal subaqueous blind anticline thrust propagation that controls a dominantly carbonate environment, followed by a progressive increase in siliciclastic sediment supply, and (2) an overfilled stage with an increase in frontal thrust propagation causing new emergent sediment sources. This second stage evolves from an active emerged blind anticline thrust to a migrating thrust that moved along lateral ramps, and which caused the decoupling of the Tremp-Graus uplifted wedge-top sub-basin from the Ainsa subsiding foredeep domain. Finally, we provide a new model intrinsic to the piggyback basin development with four main stages, controlled by changes in intrabasinal tectonic activity, flexural subsidence and orogeny axial zone evolution, which ultimately modulate sediment supply and creation and distribution of accommodation space.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-62
Number of pages29
JournalSedimentary Geology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Basin-scale correlation
  • Intrabasinal tectonic controls
  • Piggyback basin
  • South-Pyrenean foreland basin
  • Stratigraphic record
  • Tremp-Graus-Ainsa Basin


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