Foreland Basins

[Main related publications: Garcia-Castellanos & Cloetingh, 2012 [pdf]; Garcia-Castellanos et al., 2002, Tectonics [pdf]; Garcia-Castellanos, 2002, Basin Res. [pdf]]

Using numerical modeling techniques to understand the interplay of processes during the development of foreland basins. 

Many mountain belts form by slow stacking of rocks in zones of collision between tectonic plates. The weight of such orogens causes bending of the external rigid shell of the Earth, the lithosphere, which sinks in the areas adjacent to the mountains. The resulting depressions are called foreland basins, and become filled with sediments mostly eroded in the orogen. Foreland basins are scientifically interesting because the composition and bedding of their sediments record the interaction between deep processes (lithospheric-scale) and surface processes (erosion, transport, deposition), which is not yet fully understood.


These pages show basin modeling results obtained from computer programs that quantitatively relate lithospheric, crustal and surface processes. The main assumptions and processes are summarized in the figures below. Whereas the cross-section model (tAo) focuses more attention on the lithospheric flexural behavior, the planform model (TISC) provides a closer process-based approach to the surface transport and mass balance between orogen and basin.


Surface processes (erosion/sedimentation) are simulated by calculating the dynamic river drainage network following the maximum slope on the changing topography. A flexural model allows calculating the vertical movements of the lithosphere in response to mass redistribution in the crust. These models have been partially applied to areas such as the Guadalquivir foreland basin (S Iberia) and th
Ebro Basin (NE Iberia).