Cenozoic landforms and post-orogenic landscape evolution of the Balkanide orogen: Evidence for alternatives to the tectonic denudation narrative in the southern Bulgaria

Abstract : Continental denudation is the mass transfer of rock fromsource areas to sedimentary depocentres, and is typically the result of Earth surface processes. However, a process known as tectonic denudation is also understood to expose deep-seated rocks in short periods of geological timeby displacing largemasses of continental crust along shallow-angle faults, and without requiring major contributions from surface erosion. Some parts of the world, such as the Basin and Range in theUSA or the Aegean province in Europe, have been showcased for their Cenozoic tectonic denudation features, commonly described as metamorphic core-complexes or as supradetachment faults. Based on 22 new apatite fission-track (AFT) and 21 helium (AHe) cooling ages among rock samples collectedwidely from plateau summits and their adjacent valley floors, and elaborating on inconsistencies between the regional stratigraphic, topographic and denudational records, this study frames a revised perspective on the prevailing tectonic denudation narrative for southern Bulgaria.We conclude that conspicuous landforms in this region, such as erosion surfaces on basement-cored mountain ranges, are not primarily the result of Paleogene to Neogene core-complex formation. They result instead from “ordinary” erosion-driven, subaerial denudation. Rock cooling, each time suggesting at least 2 km of crustal denudation, has exposed shallow Paleogene granitic plutons and documents a 3-stage wave of erosional denudation which progressed from north to south during theMiddle Eocene, Oligocene, Early toMiddleMiocene, and Late Miocene. Denudation initially prevailed during the Paleogene under a syn-orogenic compressional regime involving piggyback extensional basins (Phase 1), but subsequently migrated southward in response to post-orogenic upper-plate extension driven by trench rollback of the Hellenic subduction slab (Phase 2). Rare insight given by the denudation pattern indicates that trench rollback progressed at amean velocity of 3 to 4 km/Ma. The Neogene horst-and-grabenmosaic that defines the modern landscape (Phase 3) has completely overprinted the earlier fabrics of Phases 1 and 2, and has been the prime focus of tectonic geomorphologists working in the region. The new narrative proposed here for linking the geodynamic evolution of SE Europe with surface landform assemblages raises issues in favour of better documenting the regional sedimentary record of existing Paleogene basins,which constitute a poorly documented missing link to the thermochronological evidence presented here.
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Yanni Gunnell, Marc Calvet, Bertrand Meyer, Rosella Pinna Jamme, I. Bour, et al.. Cenozoic landforms and post-orogenic landscape evolution of the Balkanide orogen: Evidence for alternatives to the tectonic denudation narrative in the southern Bulgaria. Geomorphology, Elsevier, 2017, 276, pp.203-221. ⟨10.1016/j.geomorph.2016.10.015⟩. ⟨hal-01386402⟩



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