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

Tectono-magmatic and kinematic evolution of the Africa-Europe plate boundary: from Cadomian subduction to Western Mediterranean tectonics

Frédéric Mouthereau and Paul Angrand
Frédéric Mouthereau and Paul Angrand
  • GET-OMP, Université Toulouse Paul Sabatier, France

Processes driving orogenic styles and long-term isostatic versus dynamic support of the topography have been largely debated in domains of plate convergence. The tectonic evolution of orogens reflect the interactions between mantle flow driving plates and the inherited rheology and composition of moving plates. Here we show that the tectono-magmatic evolution of the European lithospheric mantle and structure, which inherits past subduction/collision (e.g. Cadomian, Variscan) and rifting events (Tethys/Atlantic), control first-order crust-mantle coupling, plate-mantle coupling, defining Alpine-type orogens. The lack of thermal relaxation needed to maintain rheological contrasts over several hundreds of millions of years requires high mantle heat flux below Central Europe since at least the Permian. A combination of edge-driven convection on craton margins and asthenospheric flow triggered by rift propagation during the Atlantic and Tethys rifting is suggested to be the main source of heat. Timing and rates of exhumation recorded across Western Europe during the Cenozoic convergence reveal an additional control by the architecture of Mesozoic rifted margins that defined a complex array of small continental blocks with European affinity (e.g. S-Iberia, Ebro/Sardinia-Corsica) caught between the East European and West African cratons, and Adria. By 50 Ma the acceleration of orogenic exhumation, from the High Atlas to the Pyrenees, occurred synchronously with the onset of extension and magmatism in the West European Rift. Extension marks the onset of distinct orogenic evolution between Western Europe (Iberia) and the Alps (Adria) in the east, heralding the opening of the Western Mediterranean. While the details of the Cenozoic topographic history of peri-Mediterranean orogens are understood to be controlled by the rheology and architecture of rifted margins combined with changing large-scale kinematic boundary conditions (e.g. Atlas, Betics, Pyrenees, Alps), their post-10 Ma, quaternary to current surface and tectonic evolution appears to illustrate increasing control by magmatism and flow at the asthenosphere-lithosphere boundary.

How to cite: Mouthereau, F. and Angrand, P.: Tectono-magmatic and kinematic evolution of the Africa-Europe plate boundary: from Cadomian subduction to Western Mediterranean tectonics, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-17274,, 2023.

Supplementary materials

Supplementary material file