Alpine paleostress reconstruction and active faulting in Western Iberia

Research paper by Loreto Antón, Alfonso Muñoz-Martin, Gerardo De Vicente

Indexed on: 01 Jun '10Published on: 01 Jun '10Published in: Central European Journal of Geosciences


The study of intraplate tectonics is crucial for understanding the deformation within plates, far from active plate boundaries and associated stress transmission to the plate interiors. This paper examines the tectonic evolution of the Variscan basement at the western margin of the Cenozoic Duero basin. Located east of the Vilariça Fault System in NW Iberia, this intraplate zone is a relatively flat but elevated area with an intense NNE-SSW trending fault system and associated moderate seismicity. Although the area has played an important role in the Duero basin configuration, its Alpine to present-day tectonic evolution has not been well constrained. In order to characterize the successive paleostress fields, 1428 pairs of fault-striae were measured at 56 sites and two focal mechanisms were used. Stress inversion methods have been applied to analyze paleostress regimes. Results show the existence of three dominant maximum horizontal stress (Shmax) trends: N-S, NE-SW and E-W. Relative and absolute dating of the activated faults for each Shmax shows that the clearly predominant N-S paleostress field in the zone has been active since the Oligocene up to the present day; while a NE-SW stress field is found to have been active during the Cretaceous and an older E-W paleostress field was active in the earlier Alpine cycle (Late Triassic).