Role of multiple inherited basement structures on orogen geometry and evolution: Insights from analogue modelling

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The role of inherited weaknesses in metamorphic basements with respect to the geometry and tectonic evolution of subsequent orogens formation forms a cornerstone of structural reconstructions, especially in non-inverted orogens with old Variscan basements. In this study, we analyse the geometry, kinematics, and tectonic evolution of the complex western termination of the Alpine Pyrenean–Cantabrian orogen using an integrated approach based on analogue modelling, constrained by structural mapping and geochronology, to provide new insights into the role of pre-existing structures and the shift in the orientation of the stress field. Our results demonstrate that pre-existing structures are necessary to explain the complex western termination, which does not follow the same tectonic architecture as the rest of the orogen. The reason for this is the different orientation of the pre-existing Variscan structures in this area, which do not follow the general E–W trend. These western structures (including NNE–SSW and NW–SE strike-slip fault systems and a greater number of E–W thrusts) accommodate the shortening, but have a less favourable orientation. The reactivation of the NNE–SSW strike-slip faults and the southern E–W thrusts in the recent stages indicates a late intraplate tectonic regime, mainly following the shift of the Shmax (from N–S to NNW–SSE) which occurred when the convergence between the Iberian, Eurasian, and African plates changed.
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