Deciphering genesis of Mountain Belts and Convergent Margins

Tectonic maturity Matrix is a new approach to describe and define an Orogenic comtext.

Evolution of an orogen from passive margin to collision. Insert from « In Search of Native Hydrogen »
(c) Ramlo production

Divergence VS Convergence Maturity

Our organisation

Our challenge is to understand orogenic processes through an entire Wilson Cycle. This includes tectonic, sedimentary, thermal and fluid evolutions of the different structural domains of mountain belts from the onset of plate convergence to the onset of the next divergence cycle (orogenic collapse and/or rifting).

The Orogen project is lead by project managers from Total S.E. R&D, CNRS-INSU and BRGM and by Principal Investigators from French Academic Institutes :

Sylvain Calassou
Emmanuel Masini
Olivier Vidal
Isabelle Thinon
Thierry Baudin
Sebastien Chevrot
Laurent Jolivet
Mary Ford
Frédéric Mouthereau
Gianreto Manatschal

The Project is divided in 5 research blocks powered by 5 Academic scientific leaders:

Block 1 
Scientific challenge is to image the deep present-day orogenic lithosphere. This scientific takes the benefits of the passive seismic experiments to be held during the project. This task is under the supervision of Pr. Sébastien Chevrot (Toulouse, FR) and is fueled by 2 Post-Docs & 3 PhDs in France and Spain (CSIC). The support of Nikos Martakis, Seismotech was determinant for the acquisition and tomography.

Block 2
Scientific challenge is to adress post-orogenic evolution of mountain belts from a tectonic and sedimentary point of view. Two main cases will be adressed: “passive” mountain belt collapse and “active” extensional reactivation of mountain belts. This task is under the supervision of Pr. Laurent Jolivet (Paris, FR) and is fueled by 1 Post-Doc and 4 PhD projects in France.

Block 3
Scientific challenge is to understand syn-orogenic tectonic and sedimentary processes. Two major stages are under consideration: 1) Early pre-collisional orogeny dealing with reactivation of former oceans/rifted margins / rifts and 2) the syn-collisional dynamics. This task is under the supervision of Pr. Mary Ford (Nancy, FR) and is fueled by 2 Post-Docs & 8 PhD projects in France, Spain and the UK.

Block 4 
Scientific challenge is dedicated to the parametrization of orogenic processes, including pressure, thermicity, chemistry and stress through the entire orogenic evolution. This task is under the supervision of Pr. Frederic Mouthereau (Toulouse, FR) and is fueled by 2 Post-doc & 4 PhD projects in France and Spain.

Block 5
Scientific challenge is addressing inversion modalities of former oceanic basins and their surrounding rifted margins and rifts. This task is under the supervision of Pr. Gianreto Manatschal (Strasbourg, FR) and is fueled by 4 post-doc and 4 PhD projects in France & Spain.

In parallel of this research, a cutting edge lithospheric imaging will be developped in the study area. In addition of the availability of industrial dataset, these is devoted to fuel our research teams in the next five years.


These 5 thematics are adressing first order evolutional stages of mountain belts that are chronologically:

  1. Reactivation of oceanic and rift inheritances during subduction and pre-collision orogeny
  2. Collision stage and foreland basin emplacement
  3. Post-orogenic mountain dismantling and lithospheric readjustment.

Methods are multi-approach and multi-scale dealing with field gelogy, thermochronology, plate kinematic restoration, lithosphere and basin scale passive seismic images, geochemistry, seismic interpretations, numerical modelling…

Our scientific ambitions cannot be reached without considering Health, Safety, Societal and Environmental behaviors. Through HSE awareness, trainings and processes, OROGEN also ambitions to reach HSE-excellence in our activities (field missions, lab operations, offices …) and our partnerships.

View project introduction presented by Dr. Sylvain Calassou

View project synthesis presented by Dr. Emmanuel Masini

Orogen map