A new approach to the opening of the eastern Mediterranean Sea and the origin of the Hellenic Subduction Zone. Part 1: The eastern Mediterranean Sea

Le Pichon X., Şengör A. M. C. , İmren C.

CANADIAN JOURNAL OF EARTH SCIENCES, vol.56, no.11, pp.1119-1143, 2019 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 56 Issue: 11
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1139/cjes-2018-0128
  • Page Numbers: pp.1119-1143


We identify long transform faults that frame the eastern Mediterranean Sea and that were active during Jurassic and probably the Early Cretaceous, during the opening of the central Atlantic Ocean. We show that the African margin of the eastern Mediterranean Sea is an 1800 km long transform fault that absorbed the Africa/Eurasia Jurassic left-lateral motion during the opening of the central Atlantic. We call this transform fault the Eastern Mediterranean South Transform fault (EMST). We identify two other transform faults that were active simultaneously and framed the eastern Mediterranean Sea during its formation. These are the Apulia Transform fault (AT) and the Eastern Mediterranean North Transform fault (EMNT). The AT, three hundred km north of the EMST, followed the southern boundary of the Apulia block. Still 300 km farther north, the EMNT formed the northern boundary of this eastern Mediterranean shear zone. This last fault has been destroyed over a large portion by the Hellenic subduction. We relate these transform faults to the kinematics of the Jurassic Africa/Eurasia motion. We conclude that the eastern Mediterranean Sea is a long pull-apart created by left-lateral shearing of the Adria block as it was structurally linked to Africa.