The enigmatic curvature of Central Iberia and its puzzling kinematics


The collision between Gondwana and Laurussia that formed the latest supercontinent, Pangea, occurred during Devonian to early Permian times and resulted in a large scale orogeny that today transects Europe, northwest Africa, and eastern North America. This orogen is characterized by an “S” shaped corrugated geometry in Iberia. The northern curve of the corrugation is the well-known and studied Cantabrian (or Ibero–Armorican) Orocline and is convex to the east and towards the hinterland. Largely ignored for decades, the geometry and kinematics of the southern curvature, known as the Central Iberian curve, are still ambiguous and hotly debated. Despite the paucity of data, the enigmatic Central Iberian curvature has inspired a variety of kinematic models that attempt to explain its formation but with little consensus. This paper presents the advances and milestones in our understanding of the geometry and kinematics of the Central Iberian curve from the last decade with particular attention to structural and paleomagnetic studies. When combined, the currently available datasets suggest that the Central Iberian curve did not undergo regional differential vertical-axis rotations during or after the latest stages of the Variscan orogeny and did not form as the consequence of a single process. Instead, its core is likely a primary curve (i.e., inherited from previous physiographic features of the Iberian crust), whereas the curvature in areas outside the core is dominated by folding interference from the Variscan orogeny or more recent Cenozoic (Alpine) tectonic events.

Solid Earth; DOI:10.5194/se-11-1247-2020