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Seminar Series – Dr Maggie Ellis Curry: Spatio-temporal Evolution of Tectonics and Topography in the Pyrenees Mountains
February 17 @ 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Dr. Maggie Ellis Curry, NC State University
Spatio-temporal Evolution of Tectonics and Topography in the Pyrenees Mountains
The Pyrenees Mountains of France and Spain are an asymmetric, doubly-vergent orogen that formed due to mostly Cenozoic convergence of the European and Iberian plates. The extensive research and exploration efforts on the mountain belt and flanking foreland basins provide an exceptional dataset for investigating feedbacks between tectonics and surface processes. I will present the results of complimentary numerical modeling studies investigating the coevolution of exhumation, deformation, and topographic change in response to the developing orogen. Combined 3D flexural modeling and structural restoration indicate a mountain belt that increased topographic relief rapidly in the late Eocene (~35-30 Ma) followed by slow, limited decay since the Oligocene (~25 Ma). These results provide important constraints for 3D thermo-kinematic modeling; I utilize ~300 low-temperature thermochronology cooling ages to test different models for orogenic exhumation within the previously established topographic framework. The data reveal a westward propagating pattern of exhumation that is primarily controlled by structural inheritance, with ancillary patterns reflecting growth and erosion of the antiformal stack and post-orogenic surface processes. This work underscores the power of combining geologic data with numerical models to test hypotheses, explore driving mechanisms, and understand feedbacks between lithospheric deformation and surface processes.