Phanerozoic Vertical Movements in Morocco

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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Our understanding of the Earth’s interior is limited by the access we have of its  deep layers, while the knowledge we have of Earth’s evolution is restricted to harvested information from the present state of our planet. We therefore use  proxies, physical and numerical models, and observations made on and from the surface of the Earth. The landscape results from a combination of processes  operating at the surface and in the subsurface. Thus, if one knows how to read  the landscape, one may unfold its geological evolution.

In the past decade, numerous studies have documented km-scale upward and downward vertical movements in the continental rifted margins of the Atlantic  Ocean and in their hinterlands.These movements, described as exhumation (upward) and subsidence (downward), have been labelled as “unpredicted” and/or  “unexpected”. ‘Unpredicted’ because conceptual, physical, and numerical models that we dispose of for the evolution of continental margins do not generally account for these relatively recent observations. ‘Unexpected’ because the km-scale vertical movements occurred when our record of the geological history is insufficient to support them. As yet, the mechanisms responsible for the km-scale vertical movements remain enigmatic.

One of the common techniques used by geoscientists to investigate the past kinematics of the continental crust is to couple ‘low-temperature thermochronology’ and ‘time-temperature modelling’. In Morocco alone, over twenty studies were conducted following this approach. The reason behind this abundance of studies and the related enthusiasm of researchers towards Moroccan geology is due to its puzzling landscapes and complex history. In this Thesis, we investigate unconstrained aspects of the km-scale vertical movements that occurred in Morocco and its surroundings (Canary Islands, Algeria, Mali, and Mauritania). 

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Bertotti, G., Supervisor
  • Redfern, Jonathan, Supervisor, External person
  • Storms, J.E.A., Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date22 May 2018
Print ISBNs978-94-6186-913-5
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Morocco
  • Vertical movements
  • low-temperature thermochronology
  • time-temperature modelling


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