Sediment supply from the Betic-Rif orogen to basins through Neogene

L. Iribarren, J. Vergés*, M. Fernàndez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


We present a quantification of total and partial (divided by time slices) sedimentary volumes in the Neogene basins of the Betic-Rif orogen. These basins include the Alboran Sea, the intramontane basins, the Guadalquivir and Rharb foreland basins and the Atlantic Margin of the Gibraltar Arc. The total volume of Neogene sediments deposited in these basins is ~ 209,000 km3 and is equally distributed between the internal (Alboran Basin and intramontane basins) and the external basins (foreland basins and Atlantic Margin). The largest volumes are recorded by the Alboran Basin (89,600 km3) and the Atlantic Margin (81,600 km3). The Guadalquivir and Rharb basins amount 14,000 km3 and 14,550 km3, respectively whereas the intramontane basins record 9235 km3. Calculated mean sediment accumulation rates for the early-middle Miocene show an outstanding asymmetry between the Alboran basin (0.24 mm/yr) and the foreland basins (0.06-0.07 mm/yr) and the Atlantic Margin (0.03 mm/yr). During the late Miocene, sedimentation rates range between 0.17 and 0.18 mm/yr recorded in the Alboran Basin and 0.04 mm/yr in the intramontane basins. In the Pliocene-Quaternary, the highest sedimentation rates are recorded in the Atlantic Margin reaching 0.22 mm/yr. Sedimentary contribution shows similar values for the inner and outer basins with a generalized increase from late Miocene to present (from 3500 to 6500 km3/My). Interestingly, the Alboran Basin records the maximum sedimentary contribution during the late Miocene (5500 km3/My), whereas the Atlantic Margin does during the Pliocene-Quaternary (6600 km3/My). The spatial and time variability of the sediment supply from the Betic-Rif orogen to basins is closely related to the morphotectonic evolution of the region. The high sedimentation rates obtained in the Alboran Basin during the early-middle Miocene are related to active extensional tectonics, which produced narrow and deep basins in its western domain. The highest sedimentary contribution in this basin, as well as in the foreland and intramontane basins, is recorded during the late Miocene due to the uplift of wide areas of the Betics and Rif chains. The analysis of the sedimentary supply also evidences strong relationships with the post-Tortonian crustal thickening and coeval topographic amplification that occurred in the central Betics and Rif with the concomitant evolution of the drainage network showing the fluvial capture of some internal basins by rivers draining to the Atlantic Ocean (the ancestral Guadalquivir).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-84
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Erosion and vertical movements
  • Iberia-Africa plate boundary
  • Sedimentary contributions
  • Sedimentary volumes
  • Sedimentation rates


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