EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Migrating straits, basins and archipelagos: open questions about the Neogene paleographic evolution of the Westernmost Mediterranean 

Guillermo Booth-Rea1,3, Cesar Ranero2, Jose Miguel Azañón1,3, Carlos J. Garrido3, and Fernando García-García4
Guillermo Booth-Rea et al.
  • 1Department of Geodynamics, University of Granada (
  • 2ICREA, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar, CSIC (
  • 3Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra, CSIC-UGR
  • 4Department of Stratigraphy and Paleontology, University of Granada

Paleogeographic reconstructions of the Western Mediterranean are often based on the present location of sedimentary outcrops. However, most geodynamic and biogeographic models for the region have highlighted the importance of up-to-hundreds of km of horizontal displacements of the terrains forming the western Mediterranean orogenic arcs since the early Miocene until the Pliocene. Here we update the known paleogeographic evolution for the westernmost Mediterranean, considering published biogeographic and recent new geological constraints, including paleontological, stratigraphic, tectonic kinematic data, seismic reflection lines, low-temperature thermochronological dating, detrital zircon age populations, among others. During the Burdigalian to Langhian the rocks of the Betic hinterland, corresponding to the Alboran domain, where exhumed in a forearc setting as far East as Mallorca, now located 450 to 700 km of their present outcrops. Those exhuming rocks floored sedimentary basins among an island archipelago. The land connection between Mallorca and Alboran domains continued until the Serravallian as attested by the shared fossils of vertebrate insular fauna and biogeographic data of different taxa including trap-door spiders, beetles and fresh-water planarians. The westward migration of the Alboran forearc archipelago and its overlying basins (currently forming the Betic intramontane and western Alboran basins) was concomitant to the Langhian to Tortonian opening of the Algero-Balearic back-arc basin and the retreat of the Betic-Rif subducted slab. At a smaller scale, the Granada supra-detachment intramontane basin moved > 100 km between the Tortonian and Present, implying that previously interpreted, emerged domains, like the Sierra Nevada island where either inexistent or in a different location during the Tortonian. Sediment interpreted to represent marine gateways around and through the Alboran archipelago in the westernmost Mediterranean, may have being partially deposited as far East as Mallorca, and probably migrated westwards from the Langhian to the late Pliocene in the Gibraltar straits. Of particular interest, is the Late Messinian to Late Pliocene westward migration of the Gibraltar straits documented by sedimentary onlap over erosive channels in the Western Alboran basin and marine terraces along its Betic and Rif shores. The above proposals are evolving questions concerning the Neogene paleogeographic evolution of the Western Mediterranean that may be tested by future work and drilling.

How to cite: Booth-Rea, G., Ranero, C., Azañón, J. M., Garrido, C. J., and García-García, F.: Migrating straits, basins and archipelagos: open questions about the Neogene paleographic evolution of the Westernmost Mediterranean , EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-15310,, 2023.