Segmentation and increasing activity in the Neogene-Quaternary Teruel Basin rift (Spain) revealed by morphotectonic approach

Lope Ezquerro, José L. Simón, Aránzazu Luzón, Carlos L. Liesa

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3 Citations (Scopus)


The NNW-SSE trending Teruel Basin rift is the largest Late Miocene-Quaternary extensional intracontinental structure located within the central-eastern Iberian Chain (Spain). The structural and morphotectonic study carried out in the central-northern part of this half graben basin (north of Teruel city) has allowed us to analyse rift segmentation, deformation partitioning and rift evolution. Results are based on vertical displacement calculations (fault throw and bending) of the main border and intrabasin fault zones. We use two geomorfological-stratigraphical markers, the Intramiocene Erosion Surface (IES; 11.2 Ma) and the Fundamental Erosion Surface (FES; 3.5 Ma). While the first marker reveals rift initiation under an E-W extension, the late marker records vertical displacements associated to a second, Late Pliocene–Quaternary rifting stage characterized by a nearly multidirectional extension regime with prevailing ENE-WSW trending ó3. Despite the along-axis rift segmentation into three structural domains (northern, central and southern) and the distribution of deformation among border and intrabasin faults in the central and southern domains, a consistent average slip rate (post-IES) of 0.09 mm/a has been calculated on distinct transects across the basin, suggesting a homogeneous crustal-scale extension process in the region. The results also reveal that slip rates during the Late Pliocene-Quaternary (0.12–0.16 mm/a) are higher than the Late Miocene-Early Pliocene (0.05–0.07 mm/a). Slip rate increase is caused by (i) a westward propagation of deformation from the Valencia Through, and (ii) a change in the regional stress field, both enhanced by crustal doming affecting central-eastern Iberia, as well as progressive fault linkage. Throw vs. distance graphs suggest that the main faults are in a transient stage towards coalescence, less advanced within the southern domain. Regional Late Pliocene-Quaternary uplift, concomitant with increasing slip rates in the Teruel Basin rift, has caused the basin to rise, so that synrift sedimentation only took place in rapidly subsiding residual basins until the region became exorheic and the basin was incised by the present-day fluvial network.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104043
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Distributed deformation
  • Erosion surface
  • Half-graben
  • Rift segmentation
  • Slip rate


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