Chronology of thrust propagation from an updated tectono-sedimentary framework of the Miocene molasse (western Alps)
Amir Kalifi, Philippe-Hervé Leloup, Philippe Sorrel, Albert Galy, François Demory, Vincenzo Spina, Bastien Huet, Frédéric Quillévéré, Frédéric Ricciardi, Daniel Michoux, Kilian Lecacheur, Romain Grime
Abstract. After more than a century of research, the chronology of the deformation of the external part of the Alpine belt is still controversial for the Miocene epoch. In particular, the poor dating of the foreland basin sedimentary succession hampers a comprehensive understanding of the kinematics of the deformation. Here we focus on the Miocene Molasse deposits of the northern subalpine massifs, southern Jura, Royans, Bas-Dauphiné, Crest and La Bresse sedimentary basins through a
... inary approach to build a basin-wide tectono-stratigraphic framework. Based on sequence stratigraphy constrained by biostratigraphical, chemostratigraphical (Sr-isotopes) and magnetostratigraphical data between the late Aquitanian (~21 Ma) and the Tortonian (~8.2 Ma), the Miocene Molasse chronostratigraphy is revised with a precision of ~0.5 Ma. The Miocene Molasse sediments encompass four different palaeogeographical domains: (i) the oriental domain, outlined by depositional sequences S1a to S3 (~21 to ~15 Ma), (ii) the median domain characterized by sequences S2 to S5 (~17.8 to ~12 Ma), (iii) the occidental domain, in which sequences S2a to S8 (~17.8 to ~8.2 Ma) were deposited and, (iv) the Bressan domain, where sedimentation is restricted to sequences S6 to S8 (~12 to ~8.2 Ma). A structural and tectono-sedimentary study is conducted based on new field observations and the reappraisal of regional seismic profiles, thereby allowing the identification of five major faults zones (FZ). The oriental, median and occidental paleogeographical domains are clearly separated by FZ1, FZ2 and FZ3, suggesting strong interactions between tectonics and sedimentation during the Miocene. The evolution in time and space of the paleogeographical domains within a well-constrained structural framework reveals syntectonic deposits and a westward migration of the depocenters, and allows to establish the following chronology of thrust propagation at the western alpine front: (i) A compressive phase (P1) corresponding to thrusting above the Chartreuse Orientale Thrust (FZ1), which was likely initiated during the Oligocene. This tectonic phase generated reliefs that limited the Miocene transgression to the east; (ii) the ~W-WNW/E-ESE-directed compressive phase (P2) involving the Belledonne basal thrust, which activated the Salève thrust (SAL) fault and successively FZ2 to FZ5 from east to west. Phase P2 deeply shaped the Miocene palaeogeographical evolution and most probably corresponded to a prominent compressive phase at the scale of the Alps during the early to middle Miocene (between 18.05 +/- 0.25 Ma and ~12 Ma). In those ~6 Myr, the Miocene sea was forced to regress rapidly westwards in response to westward migration of the active thrusts and exhumation of piggy-back basins atop the fault zones; (iii) the last phase (P3) of Tortonian age (~10 Ma), which likely implied a significant uplift (350 m minimum) of the Bas-Dauphiné basin, whereas horizontal motions prevailed within the Jura Mountains.