Geologica Belgica

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François ROURE

Crustal architecture, thermal evolution and energy resources of compressional basins (André Dumont medallist lecture 2013)

(volume 17 (2014) — number 2)
Open Access

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Our understanding of sedimentary basins, orogens and links between deep and surface processes has greatly benefited from recent improvement of imagery techniques, including crustal scale reflection seismic and mantle tomography. ECORS profiles across the Pyrenees, the Alps and the Paris Basin for instance provide a unique control on the crustal architecture of both Cenozoic and Paleozoic orogens in western Europe. Alternatively, mantle tomography and deep focal mechanisms in the southeastern Carpathians and the western and central Mediterranean outline the progressive delamination at the Moho level of the continental lithosphere of Moesia and Adria, only its mantle part being actually recycled into the asthenosphere during the roll-back of the subduction associated with the southeastward shift of the Carpathians and Apenninic-Maghrebian arcs. This paper describes also, using various case studies from the Apennines, Albania and Venezuela, the integrated workflow developed at IFP-EN to reconstruct the kinematic and thermal evolution of fold-and-thrust belts (foothills) and adjacent forelands, and the way numerical modelling and analytical work can improve our predictions in terms of energy resources, hydrocarbon potential and reservoir risk assessment.

Ultimately, key examples from the North American Cordillera, from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico, are used to document the controls of mantle dynamics on lithosphere thickness and thermicity, continental topography, post-orogenic unroofing and foreland unflexing, and the related changes observed in drainage areas and petroleum systems. Lateral changes observed in the lithosphere thickness between the Canadian Rockies and their foreland are also compared further with similar changes observed across the Tornquist-Teisseyre Line in the architecture, thermicity, rheology and deformation pattern of the European lithosphere.

Keywords : basin modelling, continental mantle lithosphere delamination, Crustal architecture, foothills, petroleum systems, reservoir appraisal

To cite this article

François ROURE, «Crustal architecture, thermal evolution and energy resources of compressional basins (André Dumont medallist lecture 2013)», Geologica Belgica [En ligne], volume 17 (2014), number 2, URL :

About: François ROURE

IFP-EN, Geosciences Division, 1-4 Avenue de Bois-Préau, 92852 Rueil-Malmaison, France & Tectonic Group, Utrecht University, the Netherlands. E-mail: