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Beauchamp, W., Barazangi, M., Demnati, A., and El Alji, M.

Intracontinental rifting and inversion: Missour Basin and Atlas Mountains, Morocco

AAPG Bulletin, 80, 1459-1482, 1996.


The intracontinental High and Middle Atlas mountain belts in Morocco intersect to form the southern and western margins of the Missour Basin, an intermontane basin formed as a result of the uplift and inversion of the Mesozoic Atlas paleorifts. These rifts were areas where the crust was greatly attenuated and more subject to deformation in response to nearby plate boundary tectonics. Data from observations based on seismic reflection profiles and wells over the Missour basin for hydrocarbon exploration and field mapping were used to understand the basin evolution, structural styles, and inversion timing of the nearby Atlas Mountains. Hercynian and Mesozoic normal faults were reactivated into high-angle reverse and thrust faults in the Mesozoic during the Jurassic, early Cretaceous (early Alpine phase), and the Paleogene (late Alpine phase). The reactivation of synrift normal faults of the paleo-Atlas rifts inverted previous half grabens into anticlinal structures, with the axis of the half graben centered below the axis of the inverted anticline. The resulting inverted fold geometries are controlled by the geometries of the extensional planar or listric faults.

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This paper was published in the AAPG Bulletin by AAPG, and AAPG retains the copyright.

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Key Figures and Captions

Figure 12. Map showing digital topography of the Missour basin and the adjacent High and Middle Atlas mountains; seismic reflection profiles, well data, and field locations are shown. A total of 3400 km of seismic lines were used to study the tectonic evolution of the Missour basin and Atlas Mountains. The seismic lines in white are those used in this paper; both black and white lines were used in the study.

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