The Spanish‐Portuguese Central System: An Example of Intense Intraplate Deformation and Strain Partitioning
The intraplate deformation of Iberia during the Cenozoic produced a series of ranges and deformation belts with a wide variety of structural trends. The Spanish‐Portuguese Central System is the most prominent feature crossing over the whole of central Iberia. It is a large thick‐skinned crustal pop‐up with NE‐SW to E‐W thrusts. However, the 500 km long left‐lateral strike‐slip Messejana‐Plasencia fault, also NE‐SW oriented, bends these thrusts to produce NE‐SW local paleostresses close to the fault, which seems to be consistent with a common deformational arrangement. This is also supported by the similar sedimentary infilling characteristics found in the surrounding Cenozoic basins. The moment of the maximum intraplate deformation is registered at the same time in all these basins during the upper Priabonian‐lower Chattian. As there are two possible sources for the intraplate compressive stresses, the Pyrenean (N‐S shortening) orogen to the north and the Betic (NW‐SE shortening) orogen to the south, neither can simply explain both simultaneous movements (NE‐SW strike‐slip and NE‐SW thrusting). The deduced age of the main deformation indicates a Pyrenean origin. In contrast, the concept of strain partitioning between the two types of faults gives as a result an overall north trending compression. Existing data do not support crustal detachment from the Betics neither from the Pyrenees, but are consistent with a crustal uplift related to lithospheric folding. The subsequent Betic related stress field only slightly reworked previously Pyrenean related structures, except for the Portuguese sector, where tectonic activity occurred mainly in the Upper Miocene.
Publisher URL: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2018TC005204