A Caltech Library Service

The Tertiary structuration of the Western Subalpine foreland deciphered by calcite-filled faults and veins

Bilau, Antonin and Bienveignant, Dorian and Rolland, Yann and Schwartz, Stéphane and Godeau, Nicolas and Guihou, Abel and Deschamps, Pierre and Mangenot, Xavier and Brigaud, Benjamin and Boschetti, Louise and Dumont, Thierry (2023) The Tertiary structuration of the Western Subalpine foreland deciphered by calcite-filled faults and veins. Earth-Science Reviews, 236 . Art. No. 104270. ISSN 0012-8252. doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2022.104270.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


The age of brittle deformation in the superficial part of orogens is generally constrained by relative, cross-cutting structural relationships. However, it becomes possible to decipher the timing of fault activity by a combination of methods based on U-Pb dating and stable isotope composition of calcite-filled fault and veins. This methodology is applied to constrain the timing of deformation of the frontal part of an orogenic system, through the example of the Tertiary development of subalpine massifs fold and thrust belt (composed by Bauges, Chartreuse, Vercors massifs). The architecture of the massifs is well constrained, but the chronology and the nature of involved fluids is unknown. Clumped isotope Δ₄₇ analysis shows a significant variation of fluid temperature from 54 °C to the west up to 149 °C for the internal Vercors thrust to the east. These temperature estimates highlight a deep underthrusting with a significant exhumation of the eastern Vercors (4–6 km), while a shallow underthrusting at a depth of around 2 km is estimated for the central Vercors. Carbon and oxygen stable isotope analyses, reveal three fluid signatures corresponding to heated fluids from meteoric or basin-derived origin, which interacted at various extents with the host-rock. These data are in agreement with a low altitude frontal belt, and with a progressive reequilibration of downwards infiltrating fluids with the composition of the host-rocks. The successfully dated calcites are those exhibiting the highest fluid-rock ratios, which allowed U enrichment in a mainly uranium-poor rock environment. In-situ U-Pb calcite dating was performed on fault mirrors of main thrusts and on fractured pebbles of the underthrusted molasses of eight major thrusts. Preserved Oligocene ages of extensional veins related to pre-Alpine rifting demonstrate that U-Pb calcite is a robust method to characterize multiple superimposed events of a whole mountain building history. Furthermore, the presence of multiple deformation events in the same location point out the importance of inherited structures on the strain localization processes. Thrust related U-Pb on calcite ages on an E-W section between the Vercors and Chartreuse massifs record a major Miocene shortening phase, and the timing of strain propagation towards the foreland. The oldest thrust dated at 15 Ma, corresponds to the activation of the most internal preserved thrust mobilizing 149 °C fluids. In the central subalpine massifs, ages range from 14 Ma (Chartreuse) to 12 Ma (Vercors) mobilizing 54 °C fluids. On the western part, the initiation of the most external thrust has been dated between 10 Ma and 7 Ma. These geochronological constraints are consistent with an ‘in-sequence’ westward propagation of the deformation between 15 Ma and 7 Ma and contemporaneous with the exhumation of the Belledonne External Crystalline Massif and the development of flexural basin sedimentation. Paleostress calculations indicate a three-stage evolution of the subalpine nappe stack. Reverse and strike-slip deformations are interpreted as a diffuse tectonic reactivation in an ‘hors-sequence’ mode from 10 Ma to present in a broadly similar stress field.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Bienveignant, Dorian0000-0002-4436-0054
Rolland, Yann0000-0001-9547-6092
Schwartz, Stéphane0000-0001-7942-7071
Godeau, Nicolas0000-0003-4697-4938
Guihou, Abel0000-0001-7347-378X
Mangenot, Xavier0000-0001-8770-6767
Brigaud, Benjamin0000-0001-6961-2177
Dumont, Thierry0000-0002-1204-7901
Additional Information:This work forms part of the first author's Ph.D. funded by the French BRGM in the frame of the RGF-Alps program. The LA-ICP-MS is hosted by the ENVITOP platform at CEREGE which has received funding from “Excellence Initiative” of Aix Marseille University A*MIDEX – project DATCARB, a french “Investissement d'avenir” program. Special thanks to Fayçal Soufi and Pierre-Luigi Canepa for polished thin-section. Thanks to the LSCE isotope team for δ¹³C and δ¹⁸O analysis. Thanks to the CRPG SIMS team (especially Etienne Deloule, Johan Villeneuve and Laurette Piani) for their warm welcome and time. This manuscript benefited from constructive and positive reviews from Lucas Smeraglia and efficient handling by the editorial team.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM)UNSPECIFIED
Aix Marseille UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20230103-818063100.39
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:118635
Deposited By: Research Services Depository
Deposited On:31 Jan 2023 16:55
Last Modified:31 Jan 2023 16:55

Repository Staff Only: item control page