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Journal Articles Earth-Science Reviews Year : 2018

Extensional crustal tectonics and crust-mantle coupling, a view from the geological record

Abstract

We present here a number of geological observations in extensional contexts, either continental rifts or back-arcs, that show different situations of potential coupling between asthenospheric flow and crustal deformation. Several of these examples show a deformation distributed over hectometre to kilometre thick shear zones, accommodated by shallow dipping shear zones with a constant asymmetry over large distances. This is the case of the Mediterranean back-arc basins, such as the Aegean Sea, the northern Tyrrhenian Sea, the Alboran domain or the Gulf of Lion passive margin. Similar types of observation can be made on some of the South Atlantic volcanic passive margins and the Afar region, which were formed above a mantle plume. In all these examples the lithosphere is hot and the lithospheric mantle thin or possibly absent. We discuss these contexts and the main controlling parameters for this asymmetrical distributed deformation that implies a simple shear component at the scale of the lithosphere. These parameters include an original heterogeneity of the crust and lithosphere (tectonic heritage), lateral density gradients and contribution of the underlying asthenospheric flow through basal drag or basal push. We discuss the relations between the observed asymmetry and the direction and sense of the mantle flow underneath. The chosen examples suggest that two main mechanisms can explain the observed asymmetry: (1) shearing parallel to the Moho in the necking zone during rifting and (2) viscous coupling of asthenospheric flow and crustal deformation in back-arc basins and above plumes. Slipping along pre-existing heterogeneities seems a second-order phenomenon at lithospheric or crustal scale.
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hal-01926801 , version 1 (19-11-2018)

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Laurent Jolivet, Armel Menant, Camille Clerc, Pietro Sternai, Nicolas Bellahsen, et al.. Extensional crustal tectonics and crust-mantle coupling, a view from the geological record. Earth-Science Reviews, 2018, 185, pp.1187-1209. ⟨10.1016/j.earscirev.2018.09.010⟩. ⟨hal-01926801⟩
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