Bureau of Economic Geology

Spatio-temporal evolution of topography, flexure, and exhumation of the Pyrenees Mountains

October 16, 2020 9:00 AM
Maggie Curry

Dr. Maggie Ellis Curry
Assistant Professor of Tectonics
University of Houston

The Pyrenees are an asymmetric, doubly-vergent orogen with two foreland basins that preserve a record of deformation since the Mesozoic. The extensive research and exploration efforts on the mountain belt and flanking foreland basins provide an exceptional dataset for investigating the topographic and exhumational history of the mountain belt. Using numerical modeling, subsurface data, and thermochronology, I investigate the spatio-temporal variations in lithospheric flexure, topographic relief, and rock exhumation in response to the developing orogen. Results indicate the mountain belt achieved modern relief by the end of the Eocene, and post-orogenic decay has been slow and limited. Within that topographic framework, exhumation propagated from east to west and is notably influenced by post-orogenic surface processes. This study highlights the importance of constraining surface topography when evaluating the tectonic evolution, and shows the utility of combining subsurface and surface datasets with novel numerical modeling to determine active feedbacks during orogenesis.