12 Oct 2022
12 Oct 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Analogue modelling of the inversion of multiple extensional basins in foreland fold-and-thrust belts

Nicolás Molnar1 and Susanne Buiter1,2 Nicolás Molnar and Susanne Buiter
  • 1Tectonics and Geodynamics, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen 52064, Germany
  • 2Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ, Potsdam 14473, Germany

Abstract. The presence of pre-existing rheological heterogeneities in the lithosphere plays a significant role during subsequent stages of deformation in essentially every geological process. Extensional basins located in foreland fold-and-thrust belts will alter the spatio-temporal evolution of its associated orogen. It remains unclear how far can horizontal stresses act and reactivate extensional structures, and it is difficult to interpret from the geological record how stresses were transferred across a heterogeneous crust. Here we examine the inversion of extensional basins in foreland fold-and-thrust belts by using three-dimensional analogue experiments that simulate first an extensional stage, followed by a shortening cycle. Our results show how extensional basins proximal to the orogenic front effectively localise deformation in the shape of thrusts and prevent stress transfer beyond their location. Basins that are located at large distances from the indenter also show evidence of mild inversion at early stages, but characterised only by basin infill contraction and uplift. When multiple extensional basins are present, although the degree and type of inversion will depend on their relative location and distance to the orogenic front, here were prove that the presence of additional extensional features in the vicinity of a basin can be a first order controlling factor in their reactivation history. We share additional insights of how a fold-and-thrust belt evolves once the extensional basins have been incorporated by the advancing wedge and we hope that comparisons with natural examples will shed light on some still unanswered questions related to the process of basin inversion in orogenic belts.

Nicolás Molnar and Susanne Buiter

Status: open (until 10 Dec 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1014', Pablo Granado, 22 Nov 2022 reply
  • CC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1014', Frank Zwaan, 02 Dec 2022 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1014', Daniele Maestrelli, 05 Dec 2022 reply

Nicolás Molnar and Susanne Buiter

Nicolás Molnar and Susanne Buiter


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Short summary
Progression of orogenic wedges over pre-existing extensional structures is common in nature, but deciphering the spatio-temporal evolution of deformation from the geological record remains challenging. Our laboratory experiments provide insights on how horizontal stresses are transferred across a heterogeneous crust, constrain which pre-shortening conditions can either favour or hinder the reactivatation of extensional structures, and explain what implications they have on critical taper theory.