Post‐orogenic sediment drape in the Northern Pyrenees explained using a box model

Thomas Bernard, Hugh D. Sinclair, Mark Naylor, Frédéric Christophoul, Mary Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The transition to a post‐orogenic state in mountain ranges has been identified by a change from active subsidence to isostatic rebound of the foreland basin. However, the nature of the interplay between isostatic rebound and sediment supply, and their impact on the topographic evolution of a range and foreland basin during this transition, has not been fully investigated. Here, we use a box model to explore the syn‐ to post‐orogenic evolution of foreland basin/thrust wedge systems. Using a set of parameter values that approximate the northern Pyrenees and the neighbouring Aquitaine foreland basin, we evaluate the controls on sediment drape over the frontal parts of the retro‐wedge following cessation of crustal thickening. Conglomerates preserved at approximately 600 m elevation, which is ~300 m above the present mountain front in the northern Pyrenees are ca. 12 Ma, approximately 10 Myrs younger than the last evidence of crustal thickening in the wedge. Using the model, this post‐orogenic sediment drape is explained by the combination of a sustained, high sediment influx from the range into the basin relative to the efflux out of the basin, combined with cessation of the generation of accommodation space through basin subsidence. Post‐orogenic sediment drape is considered a generic process that is likely to be responsible for elevated low‐gradient surfaces and preserved remnants of continental sedimentation draping the outer margins of the northern Pyrenean thrust wedge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-137
JournalBasin Research
Issue number1
Early online date22 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

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