Role of Neogene Exhumation and Sedimentation on Critical-Wedge Kinematics in the Zagros Orogenic Belt, Northeastern Iraq, Kurdistan

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Renas I Koshnaw1, Brian K Horton2, Daniel F Stockli1, Douglas Edward Barber1, Mazin Y Tamar-Agha3 and Jerry J Kendall4, (1)Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, United States, (2)Department of Geological Sciences and Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, United States, (3)University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq, (4)ExxonMobil Exploration Company, Houston, TX, United States
The Zagros orogenic belt and foreland basin formed during the Cenozoic Arabia-Eurasia collision, but the precise histories of shortening and sediment accumulation remain ambiguous, especially at the NW extent of the fold-thrust belt in Iraqi Kurdistan. This region is characterized by well-preserved successions of Cenozoic clastic foreland-basin fill and deformed Paleozoic-Mesozoic hinterland bedrock. The study area provides an excellent opportunity to investigate the linkage between orogenic wedge behavior and surface processes of erosion and deposition. The aim of this research is to test whether the Zagros orogenic wedge advanced steadily under critical to supercritical wedge conditions involving in-sequence thrusting with minimal erosion or propagated intermittently under subcritical condition involving out-of-sequence deformation with intense erosion. These endmember modes of mountain building can be assessed by integrating geo/thermochronologic and basin analyses techniques, including apatite (U-Th)/He thermochronology, detrital zircon U-Pb geochronology, stratigraphic synthesis, and seismic interpretations. Preliminary apatite (U-Th)/He data indicate activation of the Main Zagros Fault (MZF) at ~10 Ma with frontal thrusts initiating at ~8 Ma. However, thermochronometric results from the intervening Mountain Front Flexure (MFF), located between the MZF and the frontal thrusts, suggest rapid exhumation at ~6 Ma. These results suggest that the MFF, represented by the thrust-cored Qaradagh anticline, represents a major episode of out-of-sequence deformation. Detrital zircon U-Pb analyses from the Neogene foreland-basin deposits show continuous sediment derivation from sources to the NNE in Iraq and western Iran, suggesting that out-of-sequence thrusting did not significantly alter sedimentary provenance. Rather, intense hinterland erosion and recycling of older foreland-basin fill dominated sediment delivery to the basin. The irregular distribution of thermochronologic ages, hinterland growth, extensive erosion, and recycled sediment in the Neogene foreland basin imply that the Zagros orogenic wedge in the Iraqi Kurdistan region largely developed under subcritical wedge conditions.