Tectonic elements controlling the evolution of the Gulf of Saros have been studied based upon the high-resolution shallow seismic data integrated with the geological field observations. Evolution of the Gulf of Saros started in the Middle to Late Miocene due to the NW-SE compression caused by the counterclockwise movement of the Thrace and Biga peninsulas along the Thrace Fault Zone. Hence, the North Anatolian Fault Zone is not an active structural element responsible for the starting of the evolution of the Gulf of Saros. The compression caused by the rotational movement was compensated by tectonic escape along the pre-existing Ganos Fault System. Two most significant controllers of this deformation are the sinistral Ganos Fault and the dextral northern Saros Fault Zone both extending along the Gulf of Saros. The most important evidences of this movement are the left- and right-oriented shear deformations, which are correlated with structural elements, observed on the land and on the high-resolution shallow seismic records at the sea. Another important line of evidence supporting the evolution of this deformation is that the transgression started in the early-late Miocene and turned, as a result of regional uplift, into a regression on the Gelibolu Peninsula during the Turolian and in the north of the Saros Trough during the Early Pliocene. The deformation on the Gelibolu Peninsula continued effectively until the Pleistocene. Taking into account the fact that this deformation affected the Late Pleistocene units of the Marmara Formation, the graben formation of the Gulf of Saros is interpreted as a Recent event. However, at least a small amount of compression on the Gelibolu Peninsula is observed. It is also evident that compression ceased at the northern shelf area of the Gulf of Saros. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.