Using the detailed geometry and tectonics of the Main Marmara fault that connects the Gulf of Izmit fault with the Ganos fault established by Le Pichon et al.  and the new GPS data set recently analyzed by Meade et al. , we confirm the existence of a Marmara block delimited to the north by the northern branch of the North Anatolian fault ( the Marmara branch) and to the south by the southern branch. The kinematics of this block indicate that the Marmara branch that crosses the Sea of Marmara is close to pure dextral strike slip at a rate of 23 mm/yr on its whole length. The short Cinarcik section is the only one where a significant extensional component is predicted. A simple kinematic model accounts for slip partitioning there, with 8-10 mm/yr of extension to the south of the basin and 23 mm/yr of dextral strike slip along the northern Cinarcik margin. The new GPS data demonstrate the existence of important asymmetric elastic loading along the Main Marmara fault that may have significant implications for the seismotectonics of the area. The expected future large earthquake may rupture the whole main Marmara fault. The partitioning in the Cinarcik basin may produce magnitude 7 normal faulting earthquakes if their repetition time is about 250 years. The 1896 earthquake may have been one of these normal fault earthquakes. The Marmara block is less than 1 Ma. Prior to its formation, it was part of the Anatolian block. At this time the Ganos fault was already a dextral strike-slip fault, but the fault system in the Sea of Marmara would have been affected by an extensional component increasing toward the east that accounts for the increasing size of the sedimentary basins eastward.