Catalan coastal chain or Catalanides, of NE-SW orientation, is parallel to coastline and its current structure is the consequence of the superposition of compressive processes that took place during the Paleogene (Eocene and Oligocene) and a more recent miocene distension. The materials outcropped are from the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Tertiary era.
Paleozoic materials, such as the ones in the Pyrenees, are intensely deformed by the Hercynian orogeny and stand out to the north end of the chain. With less area, they also outcrop to the South in the regions of Alt and Baix Camp, Priorat and Conca de Barberà.
Mesozioc materials are mostly located in the South half of the chain and are not present in the NE end. Paleogene is located in the edges of Ebro depression and Neogene (Miocene and Pliocene) fills distensional period depressions. Geologically, Catalan Coastal Chain belongs to Iberian chain, which is a small range located inside the Iberian plate and that was formed, as the Pyrenees, during the Alpine orogeny. Deformations produced during this compressive period in Coastal Chain are more important to the SW in the areas that link Iberian Chain, although they are imperceptible in the NE end.
During the distensional period fault trenches that give the most distinctive geomorphologic features to the chain were formed. The depressions of this period (Baix Ebre, el Camp de Tarragona, el Vallès-Penedès and la Selva trenches) are mainly oriented NE-SW and delimit two tectonic highs: Litoral and Prelitoral Ranges. In Litoral Ranges, which are the closest to the coastline, Garraf massif, Collserola range, El Corredor, the Montnegre and Cadiretes and Gavarres massifs stand out. In the Prelitoral Ranges, the closest to Central Catalan Depression, the Port, the Montsant, Muntanyes de Prades, Montserrat, Serres de l’Obac, Cingles de Bertí, Montseny and Guilleries stand out.
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