Miocene-Quaternary tectonic, kinematic and sedimentary evolution of the eastern Mediterranean Sea: A regional synthesis

Aksu A. E., Hall J., Yaltirak C.

EARTH-SCIENCE REVIEWS, vol.220, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 220
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2021.103719
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Aerospace Database, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Artic & Antarctic Regions, CAB Abstracts, Communication Abstracts, Environment Index, INSPEC, Metadex, Veterinary Science Database, DIALNET, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: Eastern Mediterranean, Miocene-Quaternary tectonic synthesis, Regional tectonic maps, Regional isopach maps, Tectonostratigraphic charts, MESSINIAN SALINITY CRISIS, ANATOLIAN FAULT SYSTEM, LOW-GRADE METAMORPHISM, MESAORIA BASIN CYPRUS, CENTRAL TAURUS BELT, FETHIYE SHEAR ZONE, FORE-ARC BASIN, ANAXIMANDER MOUNTAINS, ISPARTA ANGLE, LEVANT BASIN
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The eastern Mediterranean region is in the embryonic stages of continent-to-continent collision, and has a pristine Miocene-Quaternary tectonic and stratigraphic record which is not overprinted by pervasive collisional processes often seen in more mature orogens, thus can serve as a model for ancient orogenic belts. This manuscript is based on the interpretation and mapping of similar to 38,500 km of seismic reflection profiles across the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and provides a holistic synthesis of the tectonic and sedimentary evolution of the region since the Miocene. The synthesis is presented using three regional tectonic maps (time slices at preMessinian Miocene, Messinian and uppermost Messinian-Quaternary) and two regional isopach maps (time slices at Messinian and uppermost Messinian-Quaternary), six tectonostratigraphic charts and six geological cross-sections across the forearc region north of the greater Cyprus Arc. These data showed that the southern margins of the Eurasian Plate in the Miocene and the Aegean-Anatolian Microplate during the Pliocene-Quaternary following the extrusion of Anatolia have changed gradually from subduction of the Afro-Arabian Plate to collision, first the Arabian Plate with the Eurasian Plate along the Bitlis-Zagros fold-thrust belt, and now the incipient collision between the African Plate and the Aegean-Anatolian Microplate along the greater Cyprus Arc, including the Florence Rise. During the pre-Messinian Miocene, the strain appears to be by minor oblique slip on thrusts, but during the uppermost Messinian-Quaternary the strain becomes partitioned between thrusts and new strike-slip faults, with ultimately the strike-slip faults cutting across the dying thrusts. The Messinian interval was marked by Mediterranean-wide tectonic quiescence, during a period of remarkable variations of base-level and the deposition of shallow-water evaporite succession within deep basins. During the uppermost Messinian-Quaternary 5-6 regionally arcuate convex to the south oblique fault zones developed across the eastern sector of the forearc region. The eastern limbs of these prominent fault zones exhibit sinistral strike-slip and normal-sense dip-slip, whereas the western limbs of the fault zones exhibit dextral strike slip and normaland reverse-sense dip-slip. In the east, these fault zones link with the horse-tail splays of the East Anatolian fault zone. These oppositely moving strike-slip zones create distinctive V-shaped conjugate fault patterns across Central Anatolia extending southward into the central portion of the eastern Mediterranean region north of the Cyprus Arc. It is speculated that these V-shaped conjugate fault patterns represent the upper crustal expression of an incipient minor slab tear immediately west of the Island of Cyprus. The Anaximander Mountains (sensu into) and the Rhodes and Finike basins developed across the western sector of the forearc at the junction of the Hellenic and Cyprus arcs. These structures show extreme tectonic activity during the uppermost Messinian-Quaternary, with major subsidence of the Rhodes and Finike basins, and concomitant uplift of the Anaximander Mountains.