Teleseismic tomography results show that the lithosphere beneath the Atlas mountains is relatively thinner as evidenced by slower velocity anomalies. In contrast, beneath the Rif mountains a relatively fast upper mantle velocities are observed. Isostatic gravity anomalies show that the central High Atlas has a thick (~45 km) and isostatically compensated crust, whereas the Middle Atlas with a crustal thickness of about 30 km is not compensated, and that they are probably dynamically supported. The spatial distribution of intermediate-depth seismicity, regional seismic waveform propagation characteristics, Bouguer gravity anomalies, seismic reflection and drill hole data as well as surface geology are used to argue that the lithosphere beneath the Rif region has delaminated and it is sinking into the asthenosphere. This ongoing delamination process is proposed to have formed the Rif and Betic mountain belts around the Alboran Sea.
The Palmyride intraplate mountain belt in central Syria, which shows a similar geologic history to the Atlas system of Morocco, is also studied. The upper part of the crust is mapped in central Syria beneath the Palmyrides fold-thrust belt and adjacent areas using very dense seismic refraction data. The results show that beneath the axis of the Palmyrides mountain belt a deep (~11 km) trough, formed in the Mesozoic, exists despite the Cenozoic inversion and uplift.
Copyright 1995, Dogan Seber.
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