EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCE LETTERS, vol.375, pp.188-195, 2013 (SCI-Expanded)
The eastern part of the Hellenic subduction zone is composed of the Pliny and Strabo "trenches" that have been regarded as a zone of convergence between the subducting African lithosphere and the overriding Anatolian-Aegean plate. In the Pliny and Strabo "trenches", the oblique relative plate motion is generally thought to be accommodated by a typical strain partitioning consisting of strike-slip and convergence components. Notwithstanding the occurrence of strike-slip motion parallel with the Pliny-Strabo "trenches", trench-normal thrusting is not observed so far. Therefore, we conducted a detailed analysis to investigate the deformation mechanisms of the eastern part of the Hellenic Trench system. Our analyses of offshore faulting and mechanisms of earthquakes in the overriding Aegean lithosphere show that the region of the Pliny and Strabo "trenches" obeys the mechanics of the sinistral shear zone model of Tchalenko (1970). We propose that the trench perpendicular convergence is taken up by the Rhodes fold and thrust belt, which has been postulated off the southeast coast of Rhodes. Several regional P-wave tomography results give indications of a slow seismic anomaly under this zone, which is interpreted as a tear between the Hellenic and Cyprus subduction zones. The primary reason for such tear and its propagation is the ongoing rollback of the subducted part of the African lithosphere, also referred to as "the Aegean slab". Our work elucidates the surface expression of this tearing process in the form of the development of a shear zone between the Aegean lithosphere in the NW and the African lithosphere in the SE, the Pliny-Strabo Shear Zone. (c) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.