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Abstract

The last twenty-five years of geological investigation of the Mediterranean region have disproved the traditional notion that the Alpine-Himalayan mountain ranges originated from the closure of a single, albeit complex, oceanic domain—the Tethys. Instead, the present-day geological configuration of the Mediterranean region is the result of the creation and ensuing consumption of two major oceanic basins—the Paleotethys and the Neotethys—and of additional smaller oceanic basins within an overall regime of prolonged interaction between the Eurasian and the African-Arabian plates. In greater detail, there is still some debate about exactly what Tethys existed at what time. A consensus exists as to the presence of (i) a mainly Paleozoic paleotethyan ocean north of the Cimmerian continent(s); (ii) a younger late Paleozoic-Mesozoic neotethyan ocean located south of this continent, and finally; (iii) a middle Jurassic ocean, the Alpine Tethys-Valais, an extension of the central Atlantic ocean in the western Tethyan domain. Additional late Paleozoic to Mesozoic back-arc marginal basins along the active Eurasian margin com- plicated somewhat this simple picture. The closure of these heterogeneous oceanic domains produced a sys- tem of connected yet discrete orogenic belts which vary in terms of timing, tectonic setting and internal archi- tecture, and cannot be interpreted as the end product of a single "Alpine" orogenic cycle.
The last twenty-five years of geological investigation of
the Mediterranean region have disproved the traditional
notion that the Alpine-Himalayan mountain ranges
originated from the closure of a single, albeit complex,
oceanic domain—the Tethys. Instead, the present-day
geological configuration of the Mediterranean region is
the result of the creation and ensuing consumption of
two major oceanic basins—the Paleotethys and the
Neotethys—and of additional smaller oceanic basins
within an overall regime of prolonged interaction
between the Eurasian and the African-Arabian plates.
In greater detail, there is still some debate about exactly
what Tethys existed at what time. A consensus exists as
to the presence of (i) a mainly Paleozoic paleotethyan
ocean north of the Cimmerian continent(s); (ii) a
younger late Paleozoic-Mesozoic neotethyan ocean
located south of this continent, and finally; (iii) a middle
Jurassic ocean, the Alpine Tethys-Valais, an extension of
the central Atlantic ocean in the western Tethyan
domain. Additional late Paleozoic to Mesozoic back-arc
marginal basins along the active Eurasian margin com-
plicated somewhat this simple picture. The closure of
these heterogeneous oceanic domains produced a sys-
tem of connected yet discrete orogenic belts which vary
in terms of timing, tectonic setting and internal archi-
tecture, and cannot be interpreted as the end product of
a single "Alpine" orogenic cycle.
In Neogene time, following prolonged indentation
along the Alpine front, a number of small continental
microterranes (Kabylies, Balearic Islands, Sardinia-Cor-
sica, Calabria) rifted off the European-Iberian continen-
tal margin and drifted toward south or southeast, leaving
in their wake areas of thinned continental crust (e.g.
Valencia Trough) or small oceanic basins (Algerian,
Provençal and Tyrrhenian basins). The E Mediterranean
is similarly characterized by widespread Neogene exten-
sional tectonism, as indicated by thinning of continental
crust along low-angle detachment faults in the Aegean
Sea and the periaegean regions. Overall, Neogene exten-
sion in the Mediterranean can be explained as the result
of roll-back of the N-dipping subducting slab along the
Ionian-E Mediterranean subduction zones. The complex
Neogene geologic scenario of the Mediterranean is com-
plicated further by the deposition of widespread evapor-
ites during Messinian (late Miocene) time.
Introduction
Many important ideas and influential geological models have been
developed based on research undertaken in the Mediterranean
region. For example, the Alps are the most studied orogen in the
world, their structure has been elucidated in great detail for the most
part and has served as an orogenic model applied to other collisional
orogens. Ophiolites and olistostromes were defined and studied for
the first time in this region. The Mediterranean Sea has possibly the
highest density of DSDP/ODP sites in the world, and extensive
research on its Messinian deposits and on their on-land counterparts
has provided a spectacular example for the generation of widespread
basinal evaporites. Other portions of this region are less well under-
stood and are now the focus of much international attention.
The Mediterranean domain as a whole provides a present-day
geodynamic analog for the final stages of a continent-continent col-
lisional orogeny. Over this area, the oceanic lithospheric domains
originally present between the Eurasian and African-Arabian plates
have been subducted and partially obducted, except for the Ionian
basin and the southeastern Mediterranean. The array of intercon-
nected, yet discrete, Mediterranean orogens have been traditionally
considered collectively as the result of an "Alpine" orogeny, when
instead they are the result of diverse tectonic events spanning some
250 Ma, from the late Triassic to the Quaternary. To further compli-
cate the picture, throughout the prolonged history of convergence
between the two plates, new oceanic domains have been formed as
back-arc basins either (i) behind active subduction zones during
Permian-Mesozoic time, or (ii) possibly associated to slab roll-back
during Neogene time, when the advanced stage of lithospheric cou-
pling reduced the rate of active subduction.
This contribution is by no means intended as a thorough
description of the geological structure of the Mediterranean region.
As an introduction to this special issue of Episodes, this paper aims
at (i) providing the reader unfamiliar with the geological structure of
the Mediterranean with an updated, although opinionated, overview
of such complex area, particularly in terms of description of the main
geological elements and their paleogeographic-paleotectonic evolu-
tion, and (ii) setting the stage for the following articles dealing with
various aspects of the geology of Italy. Given the space constraints,
fulfilling these tasks clearly involved (over)simplification of a com-
plex matter and in some cases rather drastic choices had to be made
among different explanations and/or models proposed by various
authors. Similarly, only the main references are cited and the inter-
ested reader should refer to the list of references therein for further
details on the vast research dedicated to the area. Our sincere apolo-
gies to our Mediterranean colleagues for this simplistic synthesis of
the magnificently complex geology of their countries.
Overview of present-day Mediterranean
geological elements
The present-day geological configuration of the Mediterranean
domain is dominated by a system of connected fold-and-thrust belts
and associated foreland and back-arc basins (Figure 1). These differ-
ent belts vary in terms of timing, tectonic setting and internal
September 2003
160 Article
by William Cavazza
1
and Forese Carlo Wezel
2
The Mediterranean region—a geological primer
1 Dept. of Earth and Geoenvironmental Sciences, Univ. of Bologna, Italy. cavazza@geomin.unibo.it
2 Institute of Environmental Dynamics, University of Urbino, Italy. wezel@uniurb.it
architecture (see, for example, Dixon and Robertson, 1984; Ziegler
and Roure, 1996) and cannot be interpreted as the end product of a
single "Alpine" orogenic cycle (see following section). Instead, the
major suture zones of this area have been interpreted as the result of
the closure of different oceanic basins of variable size and age. In
addition, some Mediterranean foldbelts developed by inversion of
intracontinental rift zones (e.g. Atlas, Iberian Chain, Provence-
Languedoc, Crimea). The Pyrenees—somehow transitional between
these two end members—evolved out of an intercontinental trans-
form rift zone.
The modern marine basins of the Mediterranean Sea (Figure 1)
are variably floored by (i) remnants of the Tethyan oceanic domains
(Ionian and Libyan seas, E Mediterranean), (ii) Neogene oceanic
crust (Algero-Provençal basin and Tyrrhenian Sea), (iii) extended
continental lithosphere (Alboran Sea, Valencia Trough, Aegean
Sea), and (iv) thick continental lithosphere (Adriatic Sea). (i) In the
Ionian-Libyan Sea and the eastern Mediterranean geophysical
data (low heat-flow values and thick lithospheric mantle) and
palinspastic reconstructions point to the presence of old (Permian?)
oceanic crust underneath a thick pile of Mesozoic and Cenozoic sed-
iments which hampers direct sampling and dating; these two oceanic
domains are currently being subducted beneath the Calabria-Pelori-
tani terrane of southernmost Italy (see Bonardi et al., 2001, for a
review) and the Crete-Cyprus arcs, respectively. The more than
2,000 m deep Black Sea is partly floored by oceanic crust and prob-
ably represents the remnant of a complex Cretaceous-Eocene back-
arc basin which developed on the upper plate of a north-dipping sub-
duction zone (see following section). The western portion of the
Black Sea opened in Cretaceous-Paleocene time whereas the East
Black Sea basin has a Paleocene-Eocene age (see Robinson, 1997,
for a review). (ii) The oceanic Algero-Provençal basin opened in
the Burdigalian, as indicated by paleomagnetic data and by the tran-
sition from syn-rift to post-rift subsidence of its margins (Vially and
Trémolières, 1996). Rifting in this area occurred as early as the early
Oligocene and induced the development of a series of grabens in
southern France and Sardinia both on-land and offshore. The deepest
portion of the Tyrrhenian Sea is floored by Plio-Quaternary oceanic
crust; along its western and eastern margins rift-related grabens con-
tain sedimentary deposits as old as ?Serravallian-Tortonian, thus
marking the age of the onset of extension in this region (e.g. Kastens
et al., 1990; Mattei et al., 2002). (iii) The Alboran Sea is floored by
thinned continental crust (down to a minimum of 15 km) and it is
bounded to the north, west and south by the Betic-Rif orocline. The
basement of the Alboran Sea consists of metamorphic rocks similar
to those of the Internal Zones of the Rif-Betics (see below). During
the Miocene, considerable extension in the Alboran domain and in
the adjacent internal zones of the Betic-Rif occurred coevally with
thrusting in the more external zones of these mountain belts. Such
late-orogenic extension can be interpreted as the result of subduction
roll-back toward the west whereby thickened continental crust
extends rapidly as the subduction zone retreats (Lonergan and
White, 1997; Gutscher et al., 2002). The Valencia Trough is floored
by thinned continental crust covered by Mesozoic sedimentary
deposits; this assemblage underwent extension starting from the late
Chattian. Structurally related to the oceanic Provençal basin to the
northeast, the Valencia Trough displays younger syn-rift deposits
thus indicating a progressive southwestward rift propagation from
southern France (Camargue, Gulf of Lions) (Roca, 2001). The
Aegean Sea is located in the upper plate of the Hellenic subduction
zone. Crustal-scale extension in this region has been accommodated
Episodes, Vol.26, no.3
161
Figure 1 Digital terrain model of the Mediterranean region with major, simplified geological structures. White thrust symbols indicate the
outer deformation front along the Ionian and eastern Mediterraean subduction fronts. AB, Algerian basin; AS, Alboran Sea; AdS, Adriatic
Sea; AeS, Aegean Sea; BS, Black Sea; C, Calabria-Peloritani terrane; CCR, Catalan Coast Range; Cr, Crimea; Ct, Crete; Cy, Cyprus; EEP,
East European Platform; HP, High Plateaux; KM, Kirsehir Massif; IC, Iberian Chain; IL, Insubric line; IS, Ionian Sea; LS, Levant Sea;
LiS, Libyan Sea; MA, Middle Atlas; MM, Moroccan Meseta; MP, Moesian Platform; PB, Provençal Basin; PaB, Pannonian Basin; PS,
Pelagian Shelf; RM, Rhodope Massif; S, Sicilian Maghrebides; SP, Saharan Platform; TA, Tunisian Atlas; TS, Tyrrhenian Sea; VT,
Valencia Trough.
by shallow dipping detachment faults. It has started at least in the
early Miocene, and continues today in areas like the Corinth-Patras
rift and the southern Rhodope Massif in western Turkey. Miocene
extension was accompanied by exhumation of metamorphic rocks
and by the intrusion of granitoid and monzonitic magmas at upper
crustal levels. According to Jolivet (2001), the engine for Aegean
extension is gravitational collapse of a thick crust, allowed by exten-
sional boundary conditions provided by slab retreat; the rather recent
tectonic "extrusion" of Anatolia added only a rigid component to the
long lasting crustal collapse in the Aegean region. (iv) The Adriatic
Sea is floored by 30–35 km thick continental crust whose upper por-
tion is mostly made of a thick succession of Permian-Paleogene plat-
form and basinal carbonates. The Adriatic Sea is fringed to the west
and east by the flexural foredeep basins of the Apennines and Dinar-
ides-Albanides, respectively, where several kilometers of synoro-
genic sediments were deposited during the Oligocene-Quaternary.
The Mesozoic Adriatic domain has been considered a continental
promontory of the African plate (e.g., Channel et al., 1979; Muttoni
et al., 2001); such domain—also known as Adria—includes not only
what is now the Adriatic Sea but also portions of the Southern Alps,
Istria, Gargano and Apulia.
A large wealth of data—including deep seismic profiles, seis-
mic tomographies, paleomagnetic and gravity data, and palinspastic
reconstructions—constrains the lithospheric structure of the various
elements of the Mediterranean Alpine orogenic system (see Cavazza
et al., in press, for a review) and indicates that the late Mesozoic and
Paleogene convergence between Africa-Arabia and Europe has
totalled hundreds of kilometers. Such convergence was accommo-
dated by the subduction of oceanic and partly continental lithosphere
(de Jong et al., 1993), as indicated also by the existence of lithos-
pheric slabs beneath the major fossil and modern subduction zones
(e.g. Spakman et al., 1993). Unlike the present-day western and east-
ern Mediterranean basins, which both still comprise relatively unde-
formed oceanic crust, the Mediterranean orogenic system features
several belts of tectonized and obducted ophiolitic rocks which are
located along often narrow suture zones within the allochthon and
represent remnants of former ocean basins. Some elements of the
Mediterranean-Alpine orogenic system, such as the Pyrenees and the
Greater Caucasus, may comprise local ultramafic rock bodies but are
devoid of true ophiolitic sutures despite the fact that they originated
from the closure of oceanic basins.
The Pyrenees are characterized by a limited crustal root, in
agreement with a small lithospheric contraction during the late
Senonian-Paleogene Pyrenean orogeny. Other Alpine-age Mediter-
ranean chains (western and eastern Carpathians, parts of the Apen-
nines) are also characterized by relatively shallow crustal roots and
by a Moho which shallows progressively toward their internal zones.
Such geometry of the Moho probably results from the extensional
collapse of the internal parts of these orogens, involving structural
inversion of thrust faults and lower-crust exhumation on the foot-
walls of metamorphic core complexes. In spite of differences in
terms of chronology and structural style, the Pyrenees are physically
linked to the Languedoc-Provence orogen of southern France
and—ultimately—to the western Alps.
The Alps are the product of continental collision along the for-
mer south-dipping subduction zone between the Adriatic continental
domain of the African plate to the south and the southern continental
margin of the European-Iberian plate to the north. The lithosphere is
thicker (ca. 200 km) in the western Alps, while it is in the order of
140 km along the central and eastern Alps (see Dal Piaz et al., this
issue, and contributions in Pfiffner et al., 1996, and Moores and Fair-
bridge, 1997, for an introduction to the Alps). This supports the
notion that collisional coupling was stronger to the west. In fact, the
eastern Alps are largely made up of tectonic units derived from Apu-
lia, the Austroalpine nappes, while the western Alps are exclusively
made up by more external, and tectonically lower units of the Euro-
pean margin, the Briançonnais terrane and the intervening oceanic
units (see Piccardo, this issue). The western Alps include outcrops of
blueschists and coesite-bearing, eclogite-facies rocks formed at pres-
sures of up to 30 kbars at depths which may have reached 100 km
(see Compagnoni, this issue). Such rocks have yielded radiometric
ages as old as 130 Ma, although widespread Eocene metamorphic
ages constrain—along with other structural and stratigraphic
data—the timing of the collision.
The Alps continue eastward into the Carpathians, a broad (ca.
1,500 km long) arcuate orogen which extends from Slovakia to
Romania through Poland and Ukraine. To the south, the Carpathians
merge with the east-west-trending, north-verging Balkanides
through a complex north-trending wrench system. Three major tec-
tonic assemblages are recognized (see, for example, Royden and
Horvath, 1988): the Inner Carpathians, made of Hercynian basement
and Permian-lower Cretaceous rocks; the tectonic mélange of the
Pieniny Klippen Belt; and the Outer Carpathians, a stack of rootless
nappes made of early Cretaceous to early Miocene turbidites. All
these units are thrust towards the foreland and partly override shal-
low-marine/continental deposits of the foredeep. Two distinct major
compressive events are recognized (e.g., Ellouz and Roca, 1994):
thrusting of the Inner Carpathians took place at the end of the Early
Cretaceous, while the Outer Carpathians underwent thrusting in the
late Oligocene-Miocene. The present-day arcuate shape of this com-
plex mountain belt is mostly the product of Neogene eastward slab
retreat (e.g. Linzer, 1996) and displacements along shear zones. The
recent seismic activity in the Romanian sector of the Carpathi-
ans—the most severe seismic hazard in Europe today—is inferred to
be the final expression of such slab roll-back.
The Balkanides are an east-west-trending, north-verging thrust
belt located between the Moesian Platform to the north and the
Rhodope Massif to the south. Underneath the Black Sea, the Balka-
nides continue with a NW-SE trend. From north to south, three
domains can be recognized: the ForeBalkan, i.e., foredeep deposits
deformed during late stages of the orogeny, Stara Planina (Balkans
s.s.), and Srednogorie. According to Doglioni et al. (1996), the
Balkanides can be viewed as the back-thrust belt of the Dinaric-
Hellenic subduction and they formed through transpressional inver-
sion of a Jurassic-Cretaceous basin during Paleogene time. Never-
theless, the Balkanides have incorporated much older structures dat-
ing back at least to the Early Cretaceous (see Georgiev et al., 2001).
The stable Adriatic (Apulian) platform is flanked to the east by
the Dinarides-Albanides which continue to the south into the Hel-
lenides. Here orogenic activity began during the late Jurassic and
persisted until the Neogene. The Dinarides-Albanides-Hellenides
are a fairly continuous orogenic belt connected with the southern
Alps to the north. It derives from the collision in the Tertiary
between the Adriatic promontory and the Serbo-Macedonian-
Rhodope block(s). Ophiolites are widespread and crop out along two
parallel belts; these ophiolites were obducted in the late Jurassic and
then involved in the Alpine collision from the Paleogene. The west-
verging Albanides are characterized by thin-skinned thrust sheets
which are detached from their basement at the level of Triassic evap-
orites. This area is the birthplace of the now abandoned concept of
geosyncline, elaborated by Aubouin and co-workers in the 1960s.
The Apennines of Italy feature a series of detached sedimen-
tary nappes involving Triassic-Paleogene shallow water and pelagic,
mostly carbonate series and Oligocene-Miocene turbidites,
deposited in an eastward migrating foreland basin. A nappe made of
ophiolitic mélange (Liguride unit) is locally preserved along the
Tyrrhenian coast. The Apennines have low structural and morpho-
logical relief, involve crustally shallow (mainly sedimentary Meso-
zoic-Tertiary) rocks, and have been characterized by widespread
extension in their rear portion. The Apennines were generated by
limited subduction of the Adriatic sub-plate toward the west. [See
Elter et al. (this issue) and Vai and Martini (2001), for further
details].
The rock units of both the Betic Cordillera of Spain and the Rif
of northern Morocco have been traditionally subdivided into Exter-
nal Zones, Internal Zones and Flysch nappes (e.g., Lonergan and
White, 1997). In the Betic Cordillera, the Internal Zone is made of
Mesozoic-Tertiary sedimentary rocks deposited on the Iberian mar-
gin of the Alpine Tethys (see following section) and deformed by
NW-directed, thin-skinned thrusting during the early-middle
September 2003
162
Miocene. The Internal Zone to the south consists of Paleozoic-
Mesozoic rocks affected by Paleogene-early Miocene regional meta-
morphism. The Internal Zone of the Rif belt contains metamorphic
rocks broadly similar to those of its counterpart in the Betics. The
intermediate Flysch nappes to the south consist of Early Cretaceous
to early Miocene deep-marine clastics, whereas the External Zone
further south consists of Mesozoic-Tertiary sedimentary rocks
deposited on the African margin. Starting from the early Miocene,
the Internal Zone was thrust onto the Flysch nappes, followed by the
development of a thin-skinned fold-and-thrust belt in the External
Zone.
The Tell of Algeria and the Rif are parts of the Maghrebides, a
coherent mountain belt longer than 2,500 km running along the
coasts of NW Africa and the northern coast of the island of Sicily,
which belongs geologically to the African continent (see Elter et al.,
this issue, for an outline of the Sicilian Maghrebides). The Tell is
mostly composed of rootless south-verging thrust sheets mainly
emplaced in Miocene time. The internal (northern) portion of the
Tell is characterized by the Kabylies, small blocks of European
lithosphere composed of a Paleozoic basement complex noncon-
formably overlain by Triassic-Eocene, mostly carbonate rocks.
Two major mountain belts characterize the geological structure
of Turkey: the Pontides and the Taurides. The Pontides are a west-
east-trending mountain belt traceable for more than 1,200 km from
the Strandja zone at the Turkey-Bulgaria border to the Lesser Cau-
casus; they are separated from the Kirsehir Massif to the south by the
Izmir-Ankara-Erzincan ophiolite belt. The Pontides display impor-
tant lithologic and structural variations along strike. The bulk of the
Pontides is made of a complex continental fragment (Sakarya Zone)
characterized by widespread outcrops of deformed and partly meta-
morphosed Triassic subduction-accretion complexes overlain by
early Jurassic-Eocene sedimentary rocks. The structure of the Pon-
tides is complicated by the presence of a smaller intra-Pontide ophi-
olite belt marking the suture between an exotic terrane of Laurasian
affinity (the so-called Istanbul Zone) and the remainder of the Pon-
tides. The Istanbul zone has been interpreted as a portion of the Moe-
sian Platform which, prior to the Late Cretaceous opening of the
west Black Sea, was situated south of the Odessa shelf and collided
with the Anatolian margin in the early Eocene (Okay et al., 1994).
The Taurides are made of both allochthonous and, subordinately,
autochtonous rocks. The widespread allochthonous rocks form both
metamorphic and non-metamorphic nappes, mostly south-vergent,
emplaced through multiphase thrusting between the Campanian and
the ?Serravallian (Sengor, 1997). The stratigraphy of the Taurides
consists of rocks ranging in age from Cambrian to Miocene, with a
characteristic abundance of thick carbonate successions.
Most syntheses of the geology of the Mediterranean region
have focused on the orogenic belts and have largely disregarded the
large marginal intraplate rift/wrench basins located along the adja-
cent cratons of Africa-Arabia and Europe, ranging in age from Pale-
ozoic to Cenozoic. Peritethyan extensional basins are instead key
elements for understanding the complex evolution of this area, as
their sedimentary and structural records document in detail the trans-
fer of extensional and compressional stress from plate boundaries
into intraplate domains (see contributions in Roure, 1994, and
Ziegler et al., 2001). The development of the peritethyan rift/wrench
basins and passive margins can be variably related to the opening of
the Tethyan system of oceanic basins and the Atlantic and Indian
oceans (see following section). Some of these basins are still pre-
served whereas others were structurally inverted during the develop-
ment of the Alpine-Mediterranean system of orogenic belts or were
ultimately incorporated into it. Examples of inversion include the
Iberian Chain and Catalonian Coast Range (Figure 1) which
formed during the Paleogene phases of the Pyrenean orogeny
through inversion of a long-lived Mesozoic rift system which devel-
oped in discrete pulses during the break-up of Pangea, the opening of
the Alpine Tethys and the north Atlantic Ocean (Salas et al., 2001).
The Mesozoic rift basins of the High Atlas of Morocco and Algeria
underwent a first mild phase of inversion during the Senonian fol-
lowed by more intense deformation during the late Eocene. Frizon de
Lamotte et al. (2000) have interpreted the latter, main inversion
phase as the result of far-field stress transfer from the north during
initiation of northward subduction along the southern margin of
Iberia and contemporaneous development of the Rif-Tell accre-
tionary prism. Increased coupling between the prism and the African
continental margin induced a third phase of inversion in the Quater-
nary.
A paleogeographic-paleotectonic
scenario for the evolution of the
Mediterranean domain
Plate-motion vectors are essential elements to understand the geo-
logical evolution of the Mediterranean region and to constrain
paleogeographic-paleotectonic reconstructions. In short, during late
Jurassic-early Cretaceous time, relative motion between Africa-
Arabia and Europe was dominated by sinistral strike-slip related to
the progressive opening of the central Atlantic Ocean. Since Senon-
ian times Africa-Arabia converged toward Eurasia in a N-S-directed
counterclockwise rotational mode. Such overall sinistral motion
decreased through time and ceased at the Paleocene-Eocene transi-
tion in conjunction with the opening of the Norwegian-Greenland
Sea (Ziegler, 1988, 1990). During the Oligo-Miocene, a dextral com-
ponent is evident in the convergence; such pattern has probably con-
tinued until the present. According to Mazzoli and Helman (1994),
the relative motion path of the African plate with respect to the Euro-
pean plate from the Oligocene to the Recent can be divided into three
phases: (1) NNE-directed during Oligocene to Burdigalian time (up
to anomaly 5C: 16.2 Ma), (2) NNW-directed from Langhian to early
Tortonian time (16.2–8.9 Ma, anomalies 5C to 5), (3) NW-ward
from the late Tortonian (8.9–0 Ma, anomaly 5 to present).
Development of paleogeographic-paleotectonic maps has con-
siderably advanced our understanding of the evolution of the
Mediterranean orogenic system and the sedimentary basins associ-
ated with it. Yet, uncertainties persist among the various reconstruc-
tions proposed (cf. Ziegler, 1988; Dercourt et al., 1993, 2000; Yil-
maz et al., 1996). A discussion of the various hypotheses proposed
for the evolution of the western Tethyan domain goes beyond the
purpose of this contribution. We provide here a brief summary of the
post-Variscan evolution of the Mediterranean domain following the
paleogeographic reconstructions presented in Stampfli et al. (2001a,
b) and refer the interested reader to the abundant literature available
on the subject.
Following the late Carboniferous-early Permian assemblage of
Pangea along the Variscan-Appalachian-Mauritanian-Ouachita-
Marathon and Uralian sutures, a wedge-shaped ocean basin widen-
ing to the east—the Paleotethys—was comprised between Eurasia
and Africa-Arabia. At this time, global plate rearrangement induced
the collapse of the Variscan orogen and continued northward sub-
duction of Paleotethys beneath the Eurasian continent (e.g. Vai,
2003). A new oceanic basin—the Neotethys—began to form along
the Gondwanian margin due to the rifting and NNE-ward drifting of
an elongate block of continental lithosphere, the Cimmerian com-
posite terrane (Sengor, 1979, 1984). The Cimmerian continent pro-
gressively drifted to the northeast, leaving in its wake a new
ocean—the Neotethys (Figure 2). The Permo-Triassic history of this
part of the world is hence characterized by progressive widening of
Neotethys and contemporaneous narrowing of Paleotethys, culmi-
nating with final docking of the Cimmerian terrane along the
Eurasian continental margin in the late Triassic (although portions of
the Paleotethys closed as early as the late Permian). The Cimmerian
collisional deformation affected a long yet relatively narrow belt
extending from the Far East to SE Europe (see Sengor, 1984, for a
discussion). Cimmerian tectonic elements are clearly distinguishable
from the Far East to Iran, whereas they are more difficult to recog-
nize across Turkey and SE Europe, where they were overprinted by
later tectonism. The picture is complicated by back-arc oceanic
Episodes, Vol.26, no.3
163
basins (Halstatt-Meliata, Maliac, Pindos, Crimea-Svanetia and
Karakaya-Küre) which formed along the southern margin of Eurasia
during subduction of Paleotethys and were mostly destroyed when
the docking of the Cimmerian continent occurred.
The multi-phased Cimmerian collisional orogeny marked the
maximum width of the neotethyan ocean, which during Jurassic-
Paleogene time was then progressively consumed by northward sub-
duction along the southern margin of the Eurasian plate (Figure 3).
Whereas the Paleotethys was completely subducted or incorporated
in very minor quantities in the paleotethyan suture, remnants of the
Neotethys are possibly still present in the Ionian Sea and the Eastern
Mediterranean. Throughout the Mesozoic new back-arc marginal
basins developed along the active Eurasian margin. Some of these
back-arc basins are still preserved today (Black Sea and Caspian
Sea) but most (e.g. Vardar, Izmir-Ankara) were closed, and the
resulting sutures mask the older suture zones of the two main pale-
otethyan and neotethyan oceanic domains.
The picture is further complicated by the Valais-Pyrenean rift
zone which started to develop in the early Jurassic as an eastward
extension of the central Atlantic, detaching Iberia from Europe (Fig-
ure 3, Aptian), and closed by late Eocene time to form the Alps-
Carpathians orogenic system (Figure 3, Eocene-Oligocene bound-
ary) (Stampfli et al., 2002). Mid-Jurassic opening of the Ligurian-
Piedmont-south Penninic ocean resulted in the development of a new
set of passive margins which were traditionally considered for a long
time as segments of the northern margin of a single "Tethyan Ocean"
stretching from the Caribbean to the Far East. It is somehow a para-
dox that the Alps—which for almost a century served as an orogenic
model for the entire Tethyan region—are actually related to neither
paleotethyan nor neotethyan evolution and instead have their origin
in the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
Paleogene collision along the Alpine front sensu stricto induced
progressive collisional coupling of the evolving orogenic wedge
with its forelands, as well as lateral block-escape and oblique
motions. For example, eastward directed orogenic transport from the
Alpine into the Carpathian domain during the Oligo-Miocene was
interpreted as a direct consequence of the deep indentation of Adria
into Europe (Ratschbacher et al., 1991) although this process may
have been driven by roll-back and detachment of the westward-dip-
ping subducting slab (Wortel and Spakman, 2000). From a wider
perspective, strain partitioning clearly played a major role in the
development of most of the Mediterranean orogenic wedges as
September 2003
164
Figure 2 Paleogeographic reconstruction of the western Tethyan
area during the late Permian (from Stampfli et al., 2001b, with
minor modifications). Stars indicate magmatic activity.
Figure 3 Paleogeographic reconstructions of the western Tethyan
area during the Aptian, Maastrichtian and at the Eocene/
Oligocene boundary. Note the progressive narrowing and suturing
of the oceanic domains comprised between the Eurasian and
Iberia continental blocks to the north and the Africa/Arabia
continent to the south (from Stampfli et al., 2001b, with minor
modifications).
major external thrust belts parallel to the former active plate bound-
aries coexist with sub-vertical, intra-wedge strike-slip faults which
seem to have accommodated oblique convergence components (e.g.
Insubric line of the Alps, intra-Dinarides peri-Adriatic line).
In spite of prolonged indentation along the Alpine front, the
Neogene of the Mediterranean region is characteristically dominated
by widespread extensional tectonism. A number of small continental
microterranes (Kabylies, Balearic Islands, Sardinia-Corsica, Cal-
abria) rifted off the European-Iberian continental margin and drifted
toward the south or southeast, leaving in their wake areas of thinned
continental crust (e.g. Valencia Trough) or small oceanic basins
(Algerian, Provençal and Tyrrhenian basins) (Figure 4). The
E Mediterranean is similarly characterized by widespread Neogene
extensional tectonism, as indicated by thinning of continental crust
along low-angle detachment faults in the Aegean Sea and the peri-
aegean regions (see Durand et al., 1999, and references therein).
Overall, Neogene extension in the Mediterranean can be explained
as the result of roll-back of the subducting slabs of the Ionian-Apen-
nines-E Mediterranean subduction zone (e.g. Malinverno and Ryan,
1986). As pointed out by Royden (1993), rapid extension of thick-
ened crust in a convergent setting is a consequence of subduction
roll-back. During the late stages of orogenesis, Neogene mountain
belts throughout the Mediterranean region are characterized by con-
temporaneous shortening in the frontal portion of the orogenic
wedge and extension in its rear portions (e.g. Patacca et al., 1993).
Seismic tomographic models of the upper mantle velocity
structure of the Mediterranean-Carpathian region (e.g. Wortel and
Spakman, 2000; Panza et al., this issue) point to the important role
played by slab detachment, in particular by lateral migration of this
process along the plate boundary, in the lithosphere dynamics of the
region over the last 20–30 Ma. If the viewpoint provided by this
method is accepted, it provides a comprehensive explanation not
only of arc-trench migration but also of along-strike variations in
vertical motions, stress fields and magmatism. From this viewpoint,
slab detachment represents the terminal phase in the gravitational
settling of subducted lithosphere.
The Messinian salinity crisis
The complex Neogene geologic context of the Mediterranean
region, characterized by the advanced stage of collisional coupling
between the Eurasian and the African plates, is further complicated
by an important episode of evaporitic deposition during Messinian
(late Miocene) time. Such evaporites and—to a lesser extent—the
associated post-evaporitic siliciclastics have been the focus of much
attention and debate; this section summarizes some salient geologi-
cal data collected at sea and on land in order to interpret the bound-
ary conditions leading to their deposition. The literature available on
this subject is abundant; only a few references are reported here.
During Messinian time, convergence between the African and
Eurasian plates, associated with glacioeustatic sealevel falls, isolated
the Mediterranean Sea from the world ocean, the basin episodically
desiccated, and large volumes of evaporites precipitated on the floor
of what had been a deep marine basin, as well as on its marginal,
shallower portions (see Ryan et al, 1973; Kastens et al., 1990; and
references therein for a thorough review) (Figure 5). Messinian
evaporitic deposition did not occur in a single large depression, but
in a series of discrete basins delimited by local barriers and different
in form and dimensions from the large pre-Messinian basins, in
which hemipelagic facies were associated with open marine condi-
tions. Somewhat overshadowed by the spectacular sea-level event is
the fact that the Messinian was also a period of widespread albeit
short-lived tectonic activity—the so-called intra-Messinian tectonic
phase—along the contractional fronts active at the time, at least from
Sicily and the Italian peninsula to Corfù, Crete and Cyprus, with
thrusting, deposition of syntectonic coarse-grained sediments
(including reworked evaporites), and development of widespread
angular unconformity and disconformities (e.g. Decima and Wezel,
1973; Montadert et al., 1977; Vai and Ricci Lucchi, 1977; DeCelles
and Cavazza, 1995; Cavazza and DeCelles, 1998; Butler et al.,
1995).
Episodes, Vol.26, no.3
165
Figure 4 Schematic maps showing the paleotectonic evolution of the W Mediterranean during Neogene time (modified after Bonardi et al.,
2001, and Roca, 2001). Only active tectonic elements are shown. White, exposed land; light gray, epicontinental sea; darker gray, oceanic
crust. Black arrows indicate the direction of Africa's motion with respect to Europe (from Mazzoli and Helman, 1994). White arrows indicate
upper-plate direction of extension. Stars indicate subduction-related magmatism. AP, Apennines; B, Balearic block; C, Calabria-Peloritani
terrane; K, Kabilies; PB, Provençal Basin, S, Sardinia; TB, Tyrrhenian Basin.
Figure 5 Areal extent of the Messinian evaporites in the
Mediterranean region. Modified after Rouchy (1980).
Astronomically calibrated high-resolution stratigraphy (Krijgs-
man et al., 1999) shows that the onset of the Messinian salinity crisis
is synchronous over the entire Mediterranean basin, dated at
5.96±0.02 Ma. This is in contrast with the magnetostratigraphic
results of Butler et al. (1999), indicating that on a much smaller area
(within the foreland basin to the south of the Sicilian Maghrebides)
the beginning of evaporite precipitation is diachronous over a period
of at least 800 ka.
The well-exposed Messinian outcrops of central Sicily provide
one of the thickest and most complete occurrences of this stage and
have been instrumental in the development of current thinking on the
Mediterranean evaporites (Figure 6). Hereafter we provide a short
description of the stratigraphy of this area as an example of the com-
plexities of the Messinian stratigraphy. At the periphery of the basin
the Lower Evaporites—i.e. the Messinian succession below the
intra-Messinian unconformity—consist only of two relatively thin
units (Figure 6): the Tripoli Formation (laminated diatomites) and
the Calcare di Base (evaporitic limestone). In the deepest portions of
the basin, the Lower Evaporites are much thicker and comprise, from
bottom to top, the Tripoli Fm, the Lower Gypsum Fm (LGF), and the
Halite Fm (HF). The LGF is composed of up to 300 m of selenite
gypsum with random orientation, indicating that gypsum from the
periphery was reworked, deposited in deeper water, and recrystal-
lized; its upper parts consists of gypsum turbidites. The HF is made
of up to 800 m of halite with intercalations of potash/magnesium salt
beds; this unit was deposited in deep depressions, fed also by clastic
resedimentation and slumping. Related to intra-Messinian tectonics,
slumping began when the gypsum turbidites of the LGF were
deposited and reached its acme at the end of the sedimentaion of the
HF. Subaerial erosion occurred in the marginal zones of the basins at
the same time as the strata of salts filled up the deep, subsiding
depressions. As the potash beds were covered by halite and anhy-
drite, there are indications of freshening of the brine during the late
stages of salt deposition. It appears that these cannot be easily
explained by Hsü's (1972) hypothesis of a "deep, dry basin".
In Sicily the Lower Evaporites close with the HF, whereas at
other Italian sites they terminate with a flysch-like, marly-arena-
ceous deposit (for example, in the Marche Region), which indicates
rapid filling of subsiding troughs. Terrigenous sedimentation was
accompanied by cinerite deposition. Taken together, these events
suggest that the salts are relatively deep marine syn-diastrophic
deposits which correspond to a significant phase of marine regres-
sion. In Sicily the salts have been affected by intense tectonic com-
pression with diapiric folds (Decima and Wezel, 1973). The Lower
Evaporites were thus deposited during widespread regression which
created barriers and subdivided the Tortonian depositional area, with
the emersion of vast tracts of land, such as the Central Alboran Sea
and the northern Tyrrhenian Sea. At the peak of the lowstand a sub-
aerial erosional surface developed and resulted in the widespread
intra-Messinian inter-regional discontinuity, which corresponds to a
sequence boundary separating the Lower and Upper Evaporite
deposits.
The late Messinian Upper Gypsum Formation (UGF) of Sicily
onlaps the underlying intra-Messinian erosional surface. This unit is
vertically organized in transgressive-regressive cycles, each charac-
terized by a reduction in depth and an increase in the degree of salin-
ity. The presence of Ammonia tepida indicates that the water was
hypo-haline and no deeper than about 50 m. The regionally trans-
gressive UGF contains the so-called "Congerie fauna", a paleonto-
logical assemblage interpreted as indicative of low-salinity condi-
tions and of an eastern European affinity, leading some scientists to
infer that the Mediterranean had been a brackish lake or "lago-mare",
fed by the influx of vast quantity of freshwater from the Paratethys of
eastern Europe (e.g. Hsü et al., 1978). However, in this concept it is
unclear whether we are dealing with a giant lake or a series of iso-
lated brackish lakes. The upper evaporites include thick clastic suc-
cessions that are possibly reflecting an increased continental run-off.
Throughout much of the Mediterranean basin, siliciclastics
deposits are invariably concentrated in the uppermost portion of the
Messinian succession. In the type area of the Messinian in Sicily, this
interval is referred to as the Arenazzolo Formation (Figure 6) (Dec-
ima and Wezel, 1973; Cita and Colombo, 1979) but a variety of local
names still coexist. Published descriptions depict widely variable
lacustrine and fluvial/alluvial facies that formed as the Mediter-
ranean basin was partially inundated towards the end of the Messin-
ian (Decima and Wezel, 1973). However, relatively little detailed
information is available concerning this important transitional facies,
and little effort has been made to incorporate it into a sequence-
stratigraphic framework for the terminal Miocene transgression in
the Mediterranean (e.g. Gelati et al., 1987; Roveri et al., 1992; But-
ler et al., 1995).
The coccolith-foraminiferal marls of the Pliocene Trubi Forma-
tion mark the end of the Messinian period of desiccation and the
return to normal, open-marine sedimentation in the Mediterranean
basin (e.g. Decima and Wezel, 1973; Cita and McKenzie, 1986).
Because this lithologic change defines the Miocene-Pliocene bound-
ary stratotype, the Trubi marls have been intensively studied (e.g.
Cita and Gartner, 1973; Hilgen, 1987; Channell et al., 1988; Rio et
al., 1991). A few occurrences of pre-Trubi marine faunas have been
reported in the past (see Benson and Rakic-El Bied, 1995, for a
review), and were discarded possibly because they challenged the
widely accepted notion of the "Zanclean deluge," which is conceived
as a virtually synchronous flooding of the Mediterranean basin. This
"deluge" is thought to be marked by the base of the Trubi Formation,
providing a convenient datum for the formal establishment of the
base of the Pliocene (Van Couvering et al., 2000).
Acknowledgements
We thank Gerard Stampfli and Gian Battista Vai who reviewed the
manuscript.
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Permo-Mesozoic evolutionof the western Tethys realm: the Neo-Tethys
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September 2003
168
William Cavazza is Professor of
Stratigraphy and Sedimentology at
the University of Bologna (Italy). He
received a Ph.D. from UCLA in 1989.
His research focuses on the combined
application of structural geology, sed-
imentology, and stratigraphy to the
analysis of ancient and modern sedi-
mentary basin fills. Other research
interests include fission-track analy-
sis, strontium-isotope stratigraphy,
and the paleogeographic-paleotec-
tonic evolution of the Mediterranean
region. He has published on the geol-
ogy of the Eastern Alps, the Rio
Grande rift, the Rocky Mountains, the
Mojave Desert, the northern Apen-
nines, southern Italy and Corsica. He
is currently the chairperson of the
Mediterranean Consortium for the
32nd International Geological
Congress.
Forese Carlo Wezel is Professor of
Stratigraphy at Urbino University
(Italy). His research activities are
concerned with global geology, the
geology of the central Mediterranean
region (both on-land and offshore),
mass biotic extinctions, and Holocene
paleoclimatology. He served as chief
scientist of many research cruises and
as scientist of DSDP Leg 13. He has
been member of the editorial board of
Tectonophysics and Terra Nova and
editor of volumes of proceedings of
national and international work-
shops. He is one of the founders of the
European Union of Geosciences
(EUG) of which was appointed secre-
tary for the period 1991–93. He is
currently corresponding member of
the Italian National Academy (of Lin-
cei) and chairperson of the Advisory
Board for the 32nd International
Geological Congress.
... The Mediterranean Basin is considered a biodiversity hotspot because of its species richness and high degree of endemism (M edail and Quezel 1997;Myers et al. 2000). However, the processes responsible for Mediterranean diversity and biogeography have proven difficult to resolve because of the complex geological and climatic history of this region (Cavazza and Wezel 2003;M edail and Diadema 2009;Thompson 2005;Hewitt, 2011a). Defining events include the Messinian salinity crisis (MSC; 5.96-5.33 million years ago, Mya; Krijgsman et al. 1999Krijgsman et al. , 2010Duggen et al. 2003), a period of progressive aridity that led to the extinction of subtropical Tertiary lineages and the diversification of arid-adapted lineages as well as extensive faunal exchange within the Mediterranean and with Africa (Jim enez- Moreno et al. 2010;Fiz-Palacios and Valc arcel 2013). ...
... The population-and phylogenomic analyses of common wall lizards provide insights into how geological and climatic change in the Mediterranean Basin has shaped the evolutionary history of the Mediterranean fauna. We found strong support for a series of diversification events, range shifts, and extensive inter-and intraspecific gene flow taking place over the past six million years, connected to key events in the Mediterranean history (e.g., Cavazza and Wezel 2003;Hewitt 2011a). ...
Article
The Mediterranean Basin has experienced extensive change in geology and climate over the past six million years. Yet, the relative importance of key geological events for the distribution and genetic structure of the Mediterranean fauna remains poorly understood. Here, we use population genomic and phylogenomic analyses to establish the evolutionary history and genetic structure of common wall lizards (Podarcis muralis). This species is particularly informative because, in contrast to other Mediterranean lizards, it is widespread across the Iberian, Italian, and Balkan peninsulas, and in extra-Mediterranean regions. We found strong support for six major lineages within P. muralis, which were largely discordant with the phylogenetic relationship of mitochondrial DNA. The most recent common ancestor of extant P. muralis was likely distributed in the Italian Peninsula, and experienced an “Out-of-Italy” expansion following the Messinian salinity crisis (∼5 Mya), resulting in the differentiation into the extant lineages on the Iberian, Italian and Balkan peninsulas. Introgression analysis revealed that both inter- and intraspecific gene flows have been pervasive throughout the evolutionary history of P. muralis. For example, the Southern Italy lineage has a hybrid origin, formed through admixture between the Central Italy lineage and an ancient lineage that was the sister to all other P. muralis. More recent genetic differentiation is associated with the onset of the Quaternary glaciations, which influenced population dynamics and genetic diversity of contemporary lineages. These results demonstrate the pervasive role of Mediterranean geology and climate for the evolutionary history and population genetic structure of extant species.
... This has been recently corroborated by a phylogenomic study supporting the Balkan genus Dinarolacerta as sister group to all Algyroides (Garcia-Porta et al. 2019). During this period, subtropical forest environmental conditions prevailed in the region (Böhme 2003;Cavazza and Wezel 2003), but soon after, by the end of the Miocene beginning of the Pliocene, aridity increased creating drier and more open environments (Cavazza and Wezel 2003;Fauquette et al. 1999). This may have pushed Algyroides taxa into several small remnants of suitable habitat across the Mediterranean Basin where they evolved in allopatry. ...
... This has been recently corroborated by a phylogenomic study supporting the Balkan genus Dinarolacerta as sister group to all Algyroides (Garcia-Porta et al. 2019). During this period, subtropical forest environmental conditions prevailed in the region (Böhme 2003;Cavazza and Wezel 2003), but soon after, by the end of the Miocene beginning of the Pliocene, aridity increased creating drier and more open environments (Cavazza and Wezel 2003;Fauquette et al. 1999). This may have pushed Algyroides taxa into several small remnants of suitable habitat across the Mediterranean Basin where they evolved in allopatry. ...
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The Iberian Algyroides (Algyroides marchi) is a lacertid lizard with one of the narrowest distribution ranges in continental Europe, restricted to a minute area in the Subbaetic mountains in SE Spain. Due to specific habitat requirements, this species is considered threatened by climate change and habitat degradation. Here, an improved and time-calibrated multilocus phylogenetic analysis, combining two mitochondrial, three nuclear markers as well as a battery of 12 microsatellite loci, was performed. Moreover, ancestral changes in effective population size were determined under Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) analysis. In parallel, past, present and future habitat suitability was inferred using Ecological Niche Models (ENMs). The diversification of A. marchi in the Iberian Peninsula began during the Upper-Pleistocene around 0.10 Mya. However, during the Last Interglacial the species had much larger suitable habitats along NE Iberia and/or the Cantabrian region. Indeed, ABC analysis indicates that not the Last Interglacial, but instead the Last Glacial Maximum led to a population bottleneck followed by a recovery/expansion. The footprint of this complex evolutionary history is reflected today in six monophyletic lineages, with little genetic differentiation and geographic coherency. This pattern most likely arises from the climatic oscillations during the Pleistocene, leading to a complete range shift and secondary contact, with very divergent haplogroups in sympatry and exchanging genes. Finally, the ENMs predict a considerable future retraction and shift in the area suitable for the species, which should be taken into account for conservation policies.
... The geological structure of the Euro-Mediterranean region is dominated by a system of connected fold and thrust belts and the associated foreland and back-arc basins, which results from diverse tectonic events since Triassic age. Today's landscape is predominantly shaped by the collision orogeny (Alpine orogeny) of the Eurasian and African-Arabian plates during the late Mesozoic, comprising the closure of various oceanic basins (Cavazza and Wezel 2003). This formed multiple mountain ranges extending from the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa, over Europe, the Balkan region and the Caucasus to central Asia. ...
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Full-text available
Groundwater resources in Euro-Mediterranean countries provide a large part of the population’s water supply and are affected to varying degrees by anthropogenic use and climatic impacts. In many places, significant groundwater-level declines have already been observed, indicating an imbalance between natural groundwater recharge and groundwater abstraction. The extent of changes in groundwater storage (GWS) in the period 2003–2020 is quantified for the Euro-Mediterranean region using the latest data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE/GRACE-FO) satellite mission and recently reanalyzed ERA5-Land climate data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. The results are set in relation to the prevailing climate, the regional hydrogeological setting, and annual groundwater recharge and abstractions on country level. Analysis of the mean annual trends over the study period shows significant decreases in GWS in many countries of Europe, Northern Africa and the entire Arabian Peninsula. Overall, there are significantly negative trends in about 70% of the study region. The mean of the trends across the Euro-Mediterranean region is –2.1 mm/year. The strongest negative trends in GWS per country are observed in Iraq and Syria (–8.8 and –6.0 mm/year, respectively), but also countries in central and eastern Europe are affected by depleting aquifers. The results are a clear indicator of the already medium-term groundwater stress in the Euro-Mediterranean region, which is expected to increase in the future, and demonstrate the need for adapted strategies for sustainable groundwater management on a transregional scale in the context of climate change and population growth.
... The principal expression is the occurrence of fold mountains at right angles to the basin axis (e.g., the Pindus Mountains). 1,2,[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] The opposite sides of theMediterranean Basin have a disparate form (unlike the Atlantic Ocean where continental margins can be fitted together). The Pindus Mountains transgress multiple tectonic zones, e.g., the Ionian-Paxon, Pindus and Pelagonian. ...
Technical Report
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The Acheron River is situated in the district of Epirus, northwest Greece, a relatively remote region dominated by the Pindus Mountains. The most scenic section of the river is associated with a limestone gorge, the Acheron Gorge which is the site of the Springs of Acheron. The Acheron River is one of the five mythical rivers of ancient Greece and was described by Homer, the Greek poet who probably lived in the 8thC BC. It was known as the river of Hades. Hades is the king of the “Underworld”, an important concept of Greek mythology which refers to an otherworld where the souls (separated from the bodies) go after death.
... The TAP route crosses different structural/geodynamic domains, resulting in a strongly variable geotectonic setting that needs to be considered along the main pipeline route. The present-day geological framework of the Mediterranean region results from a series of connected fold-and-thrust belts, associated foreland and back-arc basins of different age, deformation, and internal architecture (e.g., Gueguen et al. 1998;Cavazza and Wezel 2003;Perouse et al. 2012). This configuration is the result of the complex interaction between the Eurasian and African-Arabian continental plates that produced consumption and partial obduction of the oceanic lithosphere of the Tethys region, except for the Ionian basin and the south-eastern Mediterranean. ...
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The design of critical facilities needs a targeted computation of the expected ground motion levels. The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is the pipeline that transports natural gas from the Greek-Turkish border, through Greece and Albania, to Italy. We present here the probabilistic seismic hazard analysis (PSHA) that we performed for this facility, and the deaggregation of the results, aiming to identify the dominant seismic sources for a selected site along the Albanian coast, where one of the two main compressor stations is located. PSHA is based on an articulated logic tree of twenty branches, consisting of two models for source, seismicity, estimation of the maximum magnitude, and ground motion. The area with the highest hazard occurs along the Adriatic coast of Albania (PGA between 0.8 and 0.9 g on rock for a return period of 2475 years), while strong ground motions are also expected to the north of Thessaloniki, Kavala, in the southern Alexandroupolis area, as well as at the border between Greece and Turkey. The earthquakes contributing most to the hazard of the test site at high and low frequencies (1 and 5 Hz) and the corresponding design events for the TAP infrastructure have been identified as local quakes with M W 6.6 and 6.0, respectively.
... The Mediterranean basin is one of the world's most geographically complex regions (Blondel et al. 2010) with remarkable paleogeographic evolution and tectonic history (Cavazza & Wexel 2003). ...
Article
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Three species belonging to the genus Dolichopoda (Orthoptera; Rhaphidopohoridae) are known so far from the Peloponnese, all endemic to the area. In particular, D. matsakisi is known from two mountains in the North, while D. dalensi is present in the east region. The third species, D. unicolor, is distributed in the southern part of the Peloponnese, inhabiting caves on Mt Taygetos and Mani Peninsula. Recently, extensive sampling work in most of the Peloponnese has led to the discovery of new taxa, morphologically differentiated by the above three known species. To investigate the delimitation of the Peloponnesian species of Dolichopoda, we performed both morphological and molecular analyses. Morphological analysis was carried out by considering diagnostic characters generally used to distinguish different taxa, as the shape of epiphallus in males and the subgenital plate in females. Molecular analysis was performed by sequencing three mitochondrial genes, 12S rRNA, 16S rRNA, and COI, and one nuclear gene, 28S rRNA. Results from both morphological and molecular analyses were used to revise the taxonomic arrangement of the Peloponnesian species. On the whole, we were able to distinguish seven lineages of Peloponnesian Dolichopoda species, of which D. kofinasi n.sp., D.epidavrii n.sp., D. poseidonica n.sp., and D. propanti n.sp. are described as new species. http://www.zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:857875CB-22B9-4CFC-9B7F-3FDDFC47A4E6
Article
Full-text available
EN - This paper aims to represent an assemblage of choppers and chopping tools collected from the Morphou Bay Prehistoric Survey in Cyprus, together with their natural environment. Two new possible Early Paleolithic sites, Orga-Kourvelia and Vasilia-Mosphilia, which are very close, have been identified. In total, 13 pebble tools open the door to the possibility that the first human activity in Cyprus could be dated earlier than previously accepted and contribute to debates of hominin mobility in the Mediterranean islands from the mainland. In line with the data obtained as a result of our research, it refers to the idea that hominins may have visited the island much earlier than known, and it will be encouraging to other researchers who wish to research the Paleolithic Age in Cyprus. TR- Bu makale, Kıbrıs’ta gerçekleştirilen, Güzelyurt Körfezi Prehistorik Yüzey Araştırması kapsamında saptanan Satır ve Kıyıcı topluluğunu doğal çevresi ile birlikte sunmayı amaçlamaktadır. Birbirine çok yakın mesafede olan Orga-Kourvelia ve Vasilia-Mosphilia adlı iki yeni olası Erken Paleolitik buluntu yeri belirlenmiştir. Bahsi geçen buluntu yerlerinde karşılaşılan 13 çaytaşı alet, Kıbrıs'taki ilk insan faaliyetinin önceden kabul edilenden daha erkene tarihlenebileceği ihtimalini işaret etmektedir. Buna ek olarak anakaradan Akdeniz adalarına gerçekleştirilen hominin hareketliliği üzerine devam eden tartışmalara katkıda bulunmaktadır. Araştırma sonucunda elde edilen veriler, homininlerin adayı bilinenden çok daha önce ziyaret etmiş olabileceği fikrine atıfta bulunurken Kıbrıs'ta Paleolitik Çağ'ı araştıracak uzmanlara katkıda bulunacaktır.
Preprint
Full-text available
The Mediterranean Basin has experienced extensive change in geology and climate over the past six million years. Yet, the relative importance of key geological events for the distribution and genetic structure of the Mediterranean fauna remains poorly understood. Here, we use population genomic and phylogenomic analyses to establish the evolutionary history and genetic structure of common wall lizards (Podarcis muralis). This species is particularly informative because, in contrast to other Mediterranean lizards, it is widespread across the Iberian, Italian, and Balkan peninsulas, and in extra-Mediterranean regions. We found strong support for six major lineages within P. muralis, which were largely discordant with the phylogenetic relationship of mitochondrial DNA. The most recent common ancestor of extant P. muralis was likely distributed in the Italian Peninsula, and experienced an Out-of-Italy expansion following the Messinian salinity crisis (~5 Mya), resulting in the differentiation into the extant lineages on the Iberian, Italian and Balkan peninsulas. Introgression analysis revealed that both inter- and intraspecific gene flow have been pervasive throughout the evolutionary history of P. muralis. For example, the Southern Italy lineage has a hybrid origin, formed through admixture between the Central Italy lineage and an ancient lineage that was the sister to all other P. muralis. More recent genetic differentiation is associated with the onset of the Quaternary glaciations, which influenced population dynamics and genetic diversity of contemporary lineages. These results demonstrate the pervasive role of Mediterranean geology and climate for the evolutionary history and population genetic structure of extant species.
Chapter
The Neapolitan volcanoes are located on the margins of the Campanian Plain adjacent to the Gulf of Naples, southern Italy. The volcanoes are closely monitored from the Vesuvius Volcanological Observatory as they pose a major threat to the cities of Naples and Pozzuoli. Long periods of quiescence have encouraged extensive settlement of the region and yet at least two of the volcanoes are active features that periodically experience Plinian-style eruptions. Plinian Eruptions are catastrophic events named after Pliny the Younger, Roman historian who witnessed the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius that devastated Roman settlements at the base of the volcano. Plinian eruptions typically include pyroclastic flows and partial or total collapse of cones. Two volcanic districts are recognized, Somma-Vesuvius and Phlegraean. The Somma-Vesuvius volcanic edifice towers threateningly above the city of Naples. The Phlegraean district includes the Campi Flegrei Volcano, a nested complex of calderas in which the city of Pozzouli is situated, and the volcanic island of Ischia located in the Gulf of Naples. The Campi Flegrei and Vesuvius Volcanoes are possibly the most hazardous volcanoes in Europe. Archaeological evidence and historical descriptions of the Neapolitan volcanoes has been incorporated into the modern discipline of volcanology. The Campanian Plain is a graben situated between the western slopes of the Southern Apennine Mountains and the Gulf of Naples. The graben commenced forming in the Neogene due to stress released from subduction of the Adriatic Microplate beneath the Eurasian Plate. The Neapolitan volcanoes are Quaternary features. The region remains tectonically active. The Adriatic Microplate continues to be subducted on the Apennine-Maghreb Thrust. Melting of the subducted slab occurs at depth. Extensional faults, tectonism associated with the Campanian Graben promote the ascent of magmas. The volatile- and alkali-rich basaltic magmas invariably trigger catastrophic eruptions. The Ischia Volcano reports the oldest activity (150,000 BP). Two caldera events associated with the Campi Flegrei Volcano, the Campanian Ignimbrite (38,000 BP) and the Neapolitan Yellow Tuff (15,000 BP), were sufficiently extreme as to trigger regional climatic changes. Multiple Plinian and Sub-Plinian events have been identified in the Somma-Vesuvius massif. The oldest event occurred at 22,000 BP and the youngest is the historical event of 79 AD. No systematic periodicity has been identified. Geological and archaeological tourism is a significant component of the local economy and the Roman settlements excavated from the deposits of volcanic ash and pumice attract huge numbers of tourists. The city of Herculaneum was entirely buried, but Pompeii suffered considerably less damage due to its more distal location. Pliny the Younger documented several important features of the eruption including the giant, umbrella-shaped ash column and the destructive pyroclastic flows. The pyroclastic flows were preceded by basal surges which are estimated to have travelled down the slopes of the cone at speeds > 100 kph. Temperatures are calculated at 350–400 °C. The Vesuvius National Park protects a crater on the summit of the Vesuvius cone. The crater developed in 1906. The last significant eruption of Vesuvius occurred in 1944.
Chapter
The Ancient GreeksAncient Greeks settled many of the coastal areas in southern ItalyItaly and the Italian IslandsItalian Islands. Well known archaeological sites of Magna GraeciaMagna Graecia include PaestumPaestum, near NaplesNaples, which includes three well-preserved temples, and SyracuseSyracuse in SicilySicily. MythologyMythology was an important part of the Ancient World and the difficulties that OdysseusOdysseus experienced on his return voyage from TroyTroy (western TurkeyTurkey) to his home island of IthacaIthaca (northwest GreeceGreece), as recounted by the Greek poet HomerHomer, Greek poet, contain descriptions of the perils of navigating the Mediterranean SeaMediterranean Sea. The historical (and mythological) record includes geological catastrophes such as earthquakesEarthquakes, volcanic eruptionsVolcanic eruption, tsunamisTsunami, and tidal whirlpoolsWhirlpool. The Stromboli VolcanoStromboli Volcano has been described as the world’s oldest lighthouse as the glow of the vent can be seen from many kilometres at night. The Mediterranean is comprised of multiple interlocking basins, each of which contains a sea identified by the ancient geographers. The Adriatic SeaAdriatic Sea, the Aegean SeaAegean Sea, the Ionian SeaIonian Sea, and the Tyrrhenian SeaTyrrhenian Sea each have different physical and chemical characteristics. Large parts of the central and eastern Mediterranean remain tectonically active. The Alpine OrogenyAlpine Orogeny is a long drawn out process of continental collision associated with the northward-migrating African PlateAfrican Plate and the Eurasian PlateEurasian Plate. Tectonism peaked in the Oligocene-Miocene with formation of multiple chains of fold mountainsFold Mountains. The collision is ongoing and includes subductionSubduction of oceanic crustOceanic crust associated with the ancient Tethys OceanTethys Ocean. The complexity of the tectonic setting is illustrated by the recognition of microplates, as well as the curvilinear nature of the Hellenic TrenchHellenic Trench, the current location of the plate boundary. The compressional tectonism was displaced in the PliocenePliocene by localized regions of crustal extension. Crustal extension associated with development of fore-arc and back-arc basinsBack-arc basin has resulted in some regions being subjected to frequent and relatively shallow, earthquakesEarthquakes. Catastrophic events between 1169 and 1908 resulted in the destruction of the cities of CataniaCatania and MessinaMessina. The Italian IslandItalian Island volcanoes are related to the convergent plate boundaries. There are several potentially hazardous volcanoes in the Aeolian Islands, including StromboliStromboli Island and the Fossa coneFossa cone, associated with aVolcanic island arcvolcanic island arcIsland arc (Volcanic island arc). The StrombolianStrombolian, volcanism style of volcanismVolcanism is characterized by relatively small eruptions constrained to discrete cratersCrater. The Fossa coneFossa cone on the island of VulcanoVulcano, island (named after VulcanVulcan, Roman god of fire, the Roman god of fire) is characterized by short-lived, yet violent eruptions. The Etna VolcanoEtna Volcano in northeast SicilySicily is one of the largest stratovolcanoesStratovolcano on Earth and also one of the most active. Historical activity includes the 1669 eruption during which lava flowed into the city of CataniaCatania. EtnaEtna Volcano is a major tourist attraction and the volcanic coneVolcanic cone is protected in a national park. Recent eruptions of EtnaEtna Volcano are generally restricted to the upper parts of the cone, but can be sufficiently hazardous as to restrict tourist visits. The small island of PantelleriaPantelleria, island is part of an active volcanic system associated with a transform faultTransform fault on the plate boundary between SicilySicily and North Africa.
Book
This is the first book in English reviewing and updating the geology of the whole Apennines, one of the recent most uplifted mountains in the world. The Apennines are the place from which Steno (1669) first stated the principles of geology. The Apennines also represent amongst others, the finding/testing sites of processes and products like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, olistostromes and mélanges (argille scagliose), salinity crisis, geothermal fluids, thrust-top basins, and turbidites (first represented in a famous Leonardo's painting). As such, the Apennines are a testing and learning ground readily accessible and rich of any type of field data. A growing literature is available most of which is not published in widely available journals. The objective of the book is to provide a synthesis of current data and ideas on the Apennines, for the most part simply written and suitable for an international audience. However, sufficient details and in-depth analyses of the various complex settings have been presented to make this material useful to professional scholars and to students of senior university courses.
Article
The effect of the Tethyan orogenic belt on its bordering platform forelands remains poorly understood and still needs to be analyzed. Clearly, this belt, which evolved from a true oceanic domain up to an Alpine tectonic edifice, must have strongly influenced its environment. However, as the boundary conditions (lithospheric thicknesses) greatly differ between its northern (thin European lithosphere) and southern (thick African lithosphere) margins, a comparison has to be made between the European and African domains, which are now separated by the Tethyan Orogen. The conference was thus devoted to the Peri-Tethyan platforms and basins, and deals mainly with areas in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The volume comprises 14 contributions, divided into the following sections: introduction, (2 papers); deformations at plate boundaries (3 papers); palaeostrress (7 papers); and stratigraphic correlations (2 papers). -from Publisher
Book
This volume contains interpretations of formerly classified data from the Black Sea region, with 19 contributions including several from geoscientists from Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Turkey. There are two oversize map enclosures, one detailing the exploration status of the region, and the other illustrating the area's main tectonic elements. Among the topics covered are: tectonic elements, exploration history, back-arc basins, Alpine stratigraphy, stratigraphy of the eastern Paratethys, the geology and tectonic evolution of the Pontides, the petroleum geology of the southern continental margin, and Georgian fold and thrust belts.