Development history of the foreland plate trapped between two converging orogens; Kura Valley, Georgia, case study
Structural, sedimentological, well and seismic data from the Kura basin show that the geometry of deformation has been largely determined by thick-skin structures occurring along margins of depressions filled with upper Oligocene–lower Miocene Maykop formation, flanked by highs without Maykop record. Thin-skin structures are detached inside the shaly Maykop formation and inside shale horizons of the Sarmatian–Pontian section. The main shortening took part during Sarmatian–Pontian, followed by subordinate shortening during Akchagylian–present. The thick-skin architecture formed first, reactivating pre-existing rift grain on the foreland plate that refused to flex underneath the load of advancing orogens. The thin-skin architecture developed subsequently, deforming thick-skin structures. During the Oligocene–early Miocene, the foreland basin behaved as a flexural basin, reacting by prominent fill asymmetry to Oligocene loading by the advancing Lesser Caucasus and earliest Miocene–early Sarmatian loading by advancing Greater Caucasus. Subsequently, the basin recorded only vertical movements responding to new orogen loading events. Each loading event was recorded by a shift of marine depositional environments northwestwards, up the SE-plunging Kura Valley. Conversely each quiescence period was recorded by their retreat southeastwards, towards the Caspian Sea.