Mantle exhumation, crustal denudation, and gravity tectonics during Cretaceous rifting in the Pyrenean realm (SW Europe): Insights from the geological setting of the lherzolite bodies

Abstract : The Pyrenean peridotites (lherzolites) form numerous small bodies of subcontinental mantle, a few meters to 3 km across, exposed within the narrow north Pyrenean zone (NPZ) of Mesozoic sediments paralleling the north Pyrenean Fault. Recent studies have shown that mantle exhumation occurred along the future NPZ during the formation of the Albian-Cenomanian Pyrenean basins in relation with detachment tectonics. This paper reviews the geological setting of the Pyrenean lherzolite bodies and reports new detailed field data from key outcrops in the Bearn region. Only two types of geological settings have to be distinguished among the Pyrenean ultramafic bodies. In the first type (sedimented type or S type), the lherzolites occur as clasts of various sizes, ranging from millimetric grains to hectometric olistoliths, within monogenic or polymictic debris flow deposits of Cretaceous age, reworking Mesozoic sediments in dominant proportions as observed around the Lherz body. In the second type (tectonic type or T type), the mantle rocks form hectometric to kilometric slices associated with crustal tectonic lenses. Both crustal and mantle tectonic lenses are in turn systematically associated with large volumes of strongly deformed Triassic rocks and have fault contacts with units of deformed Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous sediments belonging to the cover of the NPZ. These deformed Mesozoic formations are not older that the Aptian-early Albian. They are unconformably overlain by the Albian-Cenomanian flysch formations and have experienced high temperature-low pressure mid-Cretaceous metamorphism at variable grades. Such a tectonic setting characterizes most of the lherzolite bodies exposed in the western Pyrenees. These geological data first provide evidence of detachment tectonics leading to manle exhumation and second emphasize the role of gravity sliding of the Mesozoic cover in the preorogenic evolution of the Pyrenean realm. In the light of such evidence, a simple model of basin development can be inferred, involving extreme thinning of the crust, and mantle uprising along a major detachment fault. We demonstrate coeval development of a crust-mantle detachment fault and generalized gravitational sliding of the Mesozoic cover along low-angle faults involving Triassic salt deposits as a tectonic sole. This model accounts for the basic characteristics of the precollisional rift evolution in the Pyrenean realm.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, August 31, 2010 - 4:35:13 PM
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Yves Lagabrielle, Pierre Labaume, Michel de Saint Blanquat. Mantle exhumation, crustal denudation, and gravity tectonics during Cretaceous rifting in the Pyrenean realm (SW Europe): Insights from the geological setting of the lherzolite bodies. Tectonics, American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2010, 29, pp.TC4012. ⟨10.1029/2009TC002588⟩. ⟨hal-00512818⟩

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