Morocco Field Trip Guide

GEOLOGY OF MOROCCO
The geology of Morocco is extremely varied, and preserves an almost complete geological record from the Archaean to the Recent. The Pre-Cambrian and Palaeozoic geology records a number of orogenic events, and the gradual movement of the African Plate from a position near the South Pole in the Ordovician to the tropics by the Carboniferous. This terminated in a Carboniferous-Permian phase of deformation very similar to the Hercynian/Variscan deformation of Europe (although on a separate continent at the time). In the period between the Permian breakup of Pangaea and the Alpine deformation of the Tertiary, Morocco was on the southern margin of the Tethys Ocean and hence separated from Europe by a narrow but significant ocean. During the Triassic and Early Jurassic, there was North-South extension forming sedimentary basins within which were deposited the rocks that now form the Atlas Mountains. At the same time, there was very major East-West extension related to Atlantic rifting in the area that is now offshore to the West of Morocco, and by the Jurassic this had allowed oceanic crust development along what would become the North Atlantic. The partial closure of Tethys (leaving the Mediterranean) during the Tertiary caused a major phase of mountain building, and resulted in the deformation within the Rif and Atlas ranges. Quaternary climate changes resulted in a fluctuation between very arid and quite humid conditions; at present the Atlas range marks the northern limit of the Sahara, and desert erosional and sedimentological processes dominate much of inland Morocco.
Moroccan geological regions
Morocco can be divided up into a number of different geological regions, each characterised by a different geological history. On this field class we will be crossing the western and eastern Meseta, Atlas Mountains and eastern anti-Atlas

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