Oligocene to middle Miocene basin development in the Eastern Betic Cordilleras, SE Spain (Vélez Rubio Corridor – Espuña): reflections of West Mediterranean plate-tectonic reorganizations
The suture between two West Mediterranean crustal blocks once situated several hundreds of kilometres apart can be studied in the Vélez Rubio Corridor – Espuña area of the Eastern Betic Cordilleras. This suture, or Internal–External Zone Boundary, separates the former passive southern margin of Iberia (the External Zone) from a stack of allochthonous nappe complexes (the Internal Zone), of which the highest unit is formed by the weakly or nonmetamorphosed Malaguide Complex. Analysis of the Oligocene to middle Miocene sediments of the Vélez Rubio Corridor and the Espuña, and comparison with coeval deposits elsewhere in the Western Mediterranean shows that (a) up to the middle Miocene, the southern part of the External Zone (Southern Subbetic) was positioned some 100 km more eastward; (b) up to the early Aquitanian, the Malaguide Complex, forming part of the South Sardinian block (the southern section of a West Mediterranean continental segment) was juxtaposed to the North Sardinian block (the northern part of that continental fragment), some 400 km more eastward; (c) West European extensional rifting during the late Oligocene to earliest Aquitanian resulted in deposition of rift valley sediments (Ciudad Granada and Pliego Formations) in the Malaguide realm; (d) during the Aquitanian, the West Mediterranean segment disintegrated and the West Mediterranean oceanic basins opened, resulting in, for example, the southwestward drift of the Internal Zone, with concomitant thrusting and thinning and deposition of submarine fans (Solana-Algeciras Formation) along the margin; (e) in the early Burdigalian, the allochthonous Internal Zone collided with the Iberian margin, causing the disruption of the platform-slope configuration of the External Zone; (f ) after the collision a deep basin was formed upon the suture filled in with erosional products from both Internal and External Zones (Espejos–Viñuelas–Millanas Formations); (g) a strong compressive event in the late Burdigalian caused the southward thrusting of the Subbetic over the Espejos Formation, thus double-sealing the collisional contact; (h) in the latest Burdigalian to Langhian, new strongly subsiding basins were formed in the Western Mediterranean, e.g. along the Internal–External Zone Boundary; (i) dextral strike-slip faulting in the Serravallian resulted in a westward displacement of over 100 km of the southern Subbetic plus Internal Zone; (j) onset of a new pattern of strike-slip faulting induced the formation of a new suite of basins in the Tortonian.