Ayarza, P., Martínez Catalán, J. R., Martínez García, A., Alcalde, J., Andrés, J., Simancas, J. F., Palomeras, I., Martí, D., DeFelipe, I., Juhlin, C., and Carbonell, R.: Evolution of the Iberian Massif as deduced from its crustal thickness and geometry of a mid-crustal (Conrad) discontinuity, Solid Earth, 12, 1515–1547, https://doi.org/10.5194/se-12-1515-2021, 2021.
Normal incidence seismic data provide the best images of the crust and lithosphere. When properly designed and continuous, these sections greatly contribute to understanding the geometry of orogens and, along with surface geology, unraveling their evolution. In this paper we present the most complete transect, to date, of the Iberian Massif, the westernmost exposure of the European Variscides. Despite the heterogeneity of the dataset, acquired during the last 30 years, the images resulting from reprocessing the data with a homogeneous workflow allow us to clearly define the crustal thickness and its internal architecture. The Iberian Massif crust, formed by the amalgamation of continental pieces belonging to Gondwana and Laurussia (Avalonian margin), is well structured in the upper and lower crust. A conspicuous mid-crustal discontinuity is clearly defined by the top of the reflective lower crust and by the asymptotic geometry of reflections that merge into it, suggesting that it has often acted as a detachment. The geometry and position of this discontinuity can give us insights into the evolution of the orogen (i.e., of the magnitude of compression and the effects and extent of later-Variscan gravitational collapse). Moreover, the limited thickness of the lower crust below, in central and northwestern Iberia, might have constrained the response of the Iberian microplate to Alpine shortening. Here, this discontinuity, featuring a Vp (P-wave velocity) increase, is observed as an orogen-scale boundary with characteristics compatible with those of the globally debated Conrad discontinuity.