Crustal configuration of the Naama and El Bayadh region of northwest Algeria: Inferences from gravity and magnetic analysis

Walid Farhi, Hakim Saibi, Kevin Mickus, Yoann Quesnel, Abdelwahab Aktouf, Amar Boudella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Northwestern Algeria is located where the Saharan Atlas borders the Saharan Platform along the South Atlas Front. The origin of the South Atlas Front is controversial, thus a detailed gravity and magnetic analysis constrained by seismic reflection profiles and well data were conducted to determine the structural configuration of this region. A residual gravity anomaly map created using upward continuation and a reduced to the pole magnetic anomaly map indicated a series of northwest-trending maxima anomalies parallel to the Atlassic orogeny folds and faults and east-trending maxima within the Benoud foreland basin. These maxima mostly coincide with Paleozoic basement uplifts based on seismic reflection profiles. Depth analyses based on upward continuation, and two-dimensional forward modeling of the gravity and magnetic data indicated that the source of the maxima are mainly 5 km in depth with the magnetic sources being approximately 0.5 km deeper than the gravity sources. The gravity and magnetic models indicate that the source bodies are steep-sided and coincide with interpreted faults from the seismic reflection profiles. The maxima anomalies are mainly caused by basement uplifts instead of variations in density and/or magnetic susceptibility in the Paleozoic or older basement lithologies. The South Atlas Front and the Saharan Atlas on the central and eastern portions of Algeria is governed by a thin-skinned tectonics style involving the Mesozoic-Cenozoic sedimentary cover. While the western part was probably controlled by a mixed thin- and thick-skinned tectonic style with the reactivation of deeply rooted Triassic and Jurassic faults during Tertiary compressive events in the interpreted Paleozoic basement. Our gravity and magnetic models illustrate a crustal architecture model of the Paleozoic basement which is consistent with a north-dipping basement normal fault between less deformed Saharan Platform than the more deformed Atlassic domain. Such a crustal model aids in determining the nature of the Atlassic orogeny as geological and geophysical studies have been determining the variations of structural styles along its entire length.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104572
JournalJournal of African Earth Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Algeria
  • Gravity
  • Magnetics
  • Saharan atlas
  • South atlas front

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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