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The Pyrenees

The Pyrenees are a typical alpine mountain range of about 450km (279mi) in length and a maximum width of 150km (93mi) that separate the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe and extend from Bay of Biscay, in the Basque country, to Cap de Creus in Mediterranean sea. This chain of mountains has a more elevated area (axial Pyrenees or axial zone) where mostly paleozoic terrains affected by the Hercynian orogeny outcrop. On both sides of the axial zone mesozoic and tertiary terrains outcrop traditionally called Prepyrenees. These, together with the paleozoic materials of the axial zone, were folded during the Alpine orogeny that took place between the latest Cretaceous and the Oligocene because of the Euroasian plate and the Iberian microplate collision. The latter partially subducts under the Euroasian plate. Thus, we will geologically distinguish from north to south a North Pyrenean zone composed of Mesozoic and tertiary materials, an axial zone where paleozoic materials outcrop and a South Pyrenean zone consisting of mesozoic and tertiary materials. The North Pyrenenan zone (in France) is substantially narrower than the South Pyrenean zone.

Fault trenches of Seu d’Urgell, Cerdanya, Conflent, Rosselló and depression of Alt Empordà were formed by a system of normal faults related with distensional processes during the Neogene and superimposed to the Pyrenees structure.

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