THE rotation of Iberia and its relation to the formation of the Pyrenees has been difficult to decipher because of the lack of detailed sea-floor spreading data, although several models have been proposed1-7. Here we use detailed aeromagnetic measurements from the sea floor offshore of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland to show that Iberia moved as part of the African plate from late Cretaceous to mid-Eocene time, with a plate boundary extending westward from the Bay of Biscay. When motion along this boundary ceased, a boundary linking extension in the King's Trough to compression along the Pyrenees came into existence. Finally, since the late Oligocene, Iberia has been part of the Eurasian plate, with the boundary between Eurasia and Africa situated along the Azores-Gibraltar fracture zone.
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Iberian plate kinematics: A jumping plate boundary between Eurasia and Africa