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Eruption dynamics of pleistocene maars and tuff rings from the Azrou-Timahdite district (Middle Atlas, northern Morocco) and its relevance to environmental changes and ground water table characteristics

Abstract : The small (≈500 km2) Azrou-Timahdite basaltic area (Middle Atlas Magmatic Province, Northern Morocco) lies on a Lias (200-180 Ma) karst plateau of medium altitude (between 1,750 and 1,950 m). This area includes 23 small-sized Early Pleistocene (2.5–0.8 Ma) scoria cones and 30 Middle Pleistocene (around 0.6–0.5 Ma) hydrovolcanic edifices. The Pleistocene was a period of strong climatic instability in North Africa: three peaks of aridity would have occurred near 2.8 Ma, 1.7 Ma and 1.0 Ma (DeMenocal, 2004), but the period between 500 and 650 ka would belong to a predominantly wet stage (Jimenez et al., 2010). The scoria cones of the Azrou-Timahdite area would therefore formed when the climate was dry and the hydrovolcanic edifices when it was wet. The hydrovolcanic edifices of the Azrou-Timahdite area are peculiarly interesting because they display an exceptional diversity in terms of morphologies and ejecta deposits which can be only explained by interaction of magma with variable amounts of water, sometimes even during a single eruptive event. The karst regions like the Middle Atlas Plateau are very sensitive to fluctuations in rainfall and during a wet climatic episode the deep karst is permanently saturated with water while the epikarst has degrees of saturation that vary with the topography. Our study suggests that the diversity of hydrovolcanic dynamics in the Azrou-Timahdite area could be linked not only to the degree of saturation of the epikarst but also to the thickness of the transmission zone separating the deep water-saturated karst and the epikarst which also depends on the topographic position of the eruptive sites.
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Hicham El Messbahi, Jean-Marie Dautria, Hervé Jourde, Philippe Münch, Olivier Alard, et al.. Eruption dynamics of pleistocene maars and tuff rings from the Azrou-Timahdite district (Middle Atlas, northern Morocco) and its relevance to environmental changes and ground water table characteristics. Journal of African Earth Sciences, Elsevier, 2020, 167, pp.103845. ⟨10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2020.103845⟩. ⟨hal-02910891⟩

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