Salt decollement and rift inheritance controls on crustal deformation in orogens
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionTerra Nova. 2019, 31 (6), 562-568. 10.1111/ter.12428
We investigate the factors that control the shortening distribution and its evolution through time in orogenic belts using numerical models. We present self‐consistent high‐resolution numerical models that simulate the inversion of a rift to generate an upper crustal antiformal stack, a wide outer pro‐wedge fold‐and‐thrust belt, characterised by a two‐phase evolution with early symmetric inversion followed by formation of an asymmetric doubly‐vergent orogen. We show that a weak viscous salt décollement promotes gravitational collapse of the cover. When combined with efficient erosion of the orogenic core and sedimentation in adjacent forelands, it ensures the thick‐skinned pro‐wedge taper remains subcritical, promoting formation of an upper crustal antiformal stack. Rift inheritance promotes a two‐phase shortening distribution evolution regardless of the shallow structure and other factors. Comparison to the Pyrenees strongly suggests that this combination of factors led to a very similar evolution and structural style.