TitleEvidence for coupled reverse and normal active faulting in W Iberia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsA. da Silveira B, Cabral J., Perea H., Ribeiro A.
Date Publishedsep
KeywordsActive faulting, Fault interaction, Neotectonics, Numerical modeling, SW Iberia
AbstractThe Vidigueira-Moura fault (VMF) is a 65 km long, E-W trending, N dipping reverse left-lateral late Variscan structure located in SE Portugal (W Iberia), which has been reactivated during the Cenozoic with reverse right-lateral slip. It is intersected by, and interferes with the NE-SW trending Alentejo-Plasencia fault. East of this intersection, for a length of 40 km the VMF borders an intracratonic tectonic basin on its northern side, thrusting Paleozoic schists, meta-volcanics and granites, on the north, over Cenozoic continental sediments preserved in the basin, on the south. West of the faults intersection, evidence of Cenozoic reactivation is scarce. In the eastern sector, Plio-Quaternary VMF reactivation is indicated by geomorphologic, stratigraphic, and structural data, showing reverse movement with a right-lateral strike-slip component, in response to a NW-SE trending compressive stress. An average vertical displacement rate of 0.06 to 0.08 mm/yr since late Pliocene (roughly the last 2.5 Ma) is estimated. The Alqueva fault (AF) is a subparallel, northward dipping, 7.5 km long anastomosing fault zone that affects Palaeozoic basement rocks, and is located 2.5 km north and on the hanging block of the VMF. The AF is also a reverse left-lateral late Variscan structure, which has been reactivated during the Tertiary with reverse right-lateral slip; however, Plio-Quaternary reactivation was normal left-lateral, as shown by abundant kinematical criteria (slickensides) and geomorphic evidence. It shows an average displacement rate of 0.02 mm/yr for the vertical component of movement in the approximately last 2.5 Ma. It is proposed that the normal displacements on the AF result from tangential longitudinal strain on the upthrown block of the VMF above a convex ramp of this main reverse structure. According to this model of faults interaction, the AF is interpreted to work as a bending-moment fault sited above the VMF thrust ramp. Consequently, it is expected that the displacements on the AF increase towards the topographic surface with the increase in the imposed extension, declining downwards until they vanish above or at the VMF ramp. In order to constrain the proposed scheme, numerical modeling was performed, aiming at the reproduction of the present topography across the faults using different geodynamic models and fault geometries and displacements. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.