E1 - Geological setting of the Tertiary basins of Northeast Spain  pp. 43-48

Geological setting of the Tertiary basins of Northeast Spain

By P. Anadón and E. Roca

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This introductory chapter outlines the geology of the following major features: the Pyrenees, the Catalan coastal range, the Iberian range, the southern Foreland basins of the Pyrenees, including the Ebro basin, and the Mediterranean Valencia trough.


The present structure of the NE Iberian Plate (Fig. 1) results mainly from the convergence between the African, Iberian and Eurasian plates. Initiated during the Cenomanian–Turonian (Dewey et al., 1973; Dercourt et al., 1986; Dewey et al., 1989), this convergence occurred in two well-differentiated stages (Srivastava et al., 1990; Roest & Srivastava, 1991): a first Late Cretaceous–Middle Oligocene stage in which the convergence took place between Eurasia and Iberia, and a second Late Oligocene–Quaternary stage in which the convergence moved to the Iberian–Africa boundary.

During the first stage (mainly Paleogene in age), the convergence and later continental collision between the Iberian and Eurasian plates led to the building of the Pyrenean fold-and-thrust belt in the northern margin of the Iberian plate and the development of large compressive Paleogene structures in the northern inner parts of this plate (i.e. the Iberian Range and the Catalan Coastal Range in the NE Iberian Plate; Figs. 2 and 3). Mainly related to the building of the Pyrenees, the Ebro foreland basin also developed during this Paleogene stage.