Early foredeep successions can yield insight on tectonic processes operating adjacent to and ahead of fledgling orogenic belts but are commonly deformed by the same orogens. We develop a workflow towards stratigraphic understanding of these deformed basins, applied to the Eastern Champsaur Basin of the French Alps. This contains a down-system correlative of the southern-sourced (Eocene-Oligocene) Anno turbidites. These strata are deformed by arrays of W-facing folds that developed beneath the Embrunais Ubaye tectonic allochthon. The folds vary in geometry through the stratigraphic multilayer. Total shortening in the basin is around 4 km and the restored (un-decompacted) stratal thickness exceeds 980m. The turbidites are generally sand-rich and bed-sets can be correlated through the entire fold train. The succession shows onlap and differential thickening indicating deposition across palaeobathymetry that evolved during active basement deformation, before being over-ridden by the allochthon. The sand system originally continued over what is now the Ecrins basement massif that, while contributing to basin floor structure, only served to confine and potentially focus further sediment transport to the North. Deformation ahead of the main Alpine orogen appears to have continued progressively, and the past definition of distinct “phases” (“pre-“ and “post-Nummulitic”) is an artefact of the stratigraphic record.
Bibliographical noteFunding: This study was sponsored as part of the Turbidites Research Group (2007-2010), funded by Anadarko, BG, BP, ConocoPhillips, Devon Energy, Marathon, Maersk, Nexen, Petronas, StatoilHydro and Woodside. JV was supported by BHP-Billiton.
We thank Mary Ford, Nigel Woodcock and an anonymous referee for providing insightful comments on drafts of this paper. RWHB thanks Thierry Dumont for discussions on Alpine geology and timings – although of course the authors take sole responsibility for the information and interpretations presented here.
- structural restoration
- foreland basin