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The region of South-Eastern Europe (SEE) occupies an important segment of the Alpine–Himalayan collisional orogenic belt and consists of several Phanerozoic mobile belts. The SEE region inherits its geology from the evolution of the Vardar Tethys ocean, which existed in-between the Eurasian (Europe) and Gondwana (Africa) continental plates and which relicts presently occur along the Vardar–Tethyan mega-suture. This synthesis, therefore, consists of (1) pre-, (2) syn- and (3) post-Vardar–Tethyan geology of SEE. Pre-Vardar–Tethyan geology on the European side is reflected by geological units formed from Precambrian to Mesozoic times and include the Moesian platform, the Dacia mega-unit and the Rhodopes. On the Gondwana side, it is represented by the External Dinarides, the Dalmatian-Ionian Zone and Stable Adria (Apulia), all principally formed from Paleozoic to Mesozoic times. The Syn-Vardar–Tethyan units encompass the bulk of the geological framework of SEE. They are a physical record of the former existence of the Mesozoic oceanic lithosphere, being represented dominantly by ophiolites and trench/accretionary wedge (mélange) assemblages, which originated and were reworked during the life-span of the Vardar Tethys. The Post-Vardar–Tethyan geological evolution refers to the time period from the final closure of the Vardar Tethys until present. It comprises all rocks that stratigraphically overlie the Vardar–Tethyan mega-suture and seal the contacts between the mega-suture and the surrounding geological units. This is the time characterized by rapid extension coupled with exhumation of the lower crustal material, high heat flow, both intrusive and extrusive magmatism and considerable lithosphere thinning.
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Geology of South-Eastern Europe
Vladica Cvetkovic, Dejan Prelevićand Stefan Schmid
Abstract The region of South-Eastern Europe (SEE) occupies an important
segment of the AlpineHimalayan collisional orogenic belt and consists of several
Phanerozoic mobile belts. The SEE region inherits its geology from the evolution of
the Vardar Tethys ocean, which existed in-between the Eurasian (Europe) and
Gondwana (Africa) continental plates and which relicts presently occur along the
VardarTethyan mega-suture. This synthesis, therefore, consists of (1) pre-, (2) syn-
and (3) post-VardarTethyan geology of SEE. Pre-VardarTethyan geology on the
European side is reected by geological units formed from Precambrian to
Mesozoic times and include the Moesian platform, the Dacia mega-unit and the
Rhodopes. On the Gondwana side, it is represented by the External Dinarides, the
Dalmatian-Ionian Zone and Stable Adria (Apulia), all principally formed from
Paleozoic to Mesozoic times. The Syn-VardarTethyan units encompass the bulk of
the geological framework of SEE. They are a physical record of the former exis-
tence of the Mesozoic oceanic lithosphere, being represented dominantly by
ophiolites and trench/accretionary wedge (mélange) assemblages, which originated
and were reworked during the life-span of the Vardar Tethys. The Post-Vardar
Tethyan geological evolution refers to the time period from the nal closure of the
Vardar Tethys until present. It comprises all rocks that stratigraphically overlie
the VardarTethyan mega-suture and seal the contacts between the mega-suture and
the surrounding geological units. This is the time characterized by rapid extension
coupled with exhumation of the lower crustal material, high heat ow, both
intrusive and extrusive magmatism and considerable lithosphere thinning.
Keywords Geodynamics Gondwana Europe Mesozoic Tethys
V. Cvetkovic (&)D. Prelević
Faculty of Mining and Geology, University of Belgrade, Đušina 11,
11000 Belgrade, Serbia
e-mail: cvladica@rgf.bg.ac.rs
S. Schmid
Institut für Geophysik ETH, Zürich, Switzerland
©Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016
P. Papić(ed.), Mineral and Thermal Waters of Southeastern Europe,
Environmental Earth Sciences, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-25379-4_1
1
cvladica@rgf.bg.ac.rs
Introduction
The SynthesisApproach
The current understanding of the geological evolution of South-Eastern Europe
(SEE) is associated with still many open questions. This is due to either the lack of
data or because the existing data are of variable quality in different regions. This
volume is primarily designed to be of use for applied geologists, whose main
interest is remote from geological and geodynamical details, in particular from
interpretations that are surrounded by large controversy. In this context, the ultimate
aim of this synthesis is to provide the hydrogeological and engineering geological
community with a solid understanding about the present geological framework of
SEE and about how it formed throughout the geological history, without addressing
in detail still debated questions.
In general, the SEE region consists of several mobile belts that formed during the
youngest geological history of the Eurasian continent when AlpineHimalayan belt
originated. There is a general consensus that this region evolved during
Phanerozoic geodynamic events controlled by sea oor spreading, plate conver-
gence and collision, which occurred between the Eurasian and African (Gondwana)
continental plates (e.g. Blundell et al. 1992). This geodynamic regimewhich is
still active today in the southernmost part of the region, i.e. in the Hellenide trench
was particularly important during the last 200 m.y. It was directly associated with
the opening and closure of a branch of the Mesozoic Tethys that separated the
Eurasian continent and a promontory of Africa, referred to as Adria plate. We
consider the evolution of this part of the Mesozoic Tethys, hereafter named the
Vardar Tethys, a pivotal point for the explaining the geological history of the entire
SEE region. This synthesis, therefore, consists of three major parts, in which
(1) pre-, (2) syn- and (3) post-VardarTethyan geology of SEE are explained. These
parts refer to geological entities and rock masses that formed before this ocean
opened, those that originated during its life-span and those formed after it had been
closed, respectively.
In this geological presentation we compile the information from relevant geo-
logical and geotectonic syntheses of various parts of the SEE region. For the
Dinarides-Albanides-Hellenides we mainly use the interpretations provided by
Karamata (2006), Robertson and Shallo (2000), Schmid et al. (2008) and Robertson
et al. (2009), for the Carpathians and the Balkanides we apply the views of Mahel
(1973), Ivanov (1988), Săndulescu (1994), Kräutner and Krstić(2006) and Schmid
et al. (2008), whereas for the Balkan orogen in Bulgaria and the Rhodopes we use
the syntheses of Dinter and Royden (1993), Burchel et al. (2003), Burchel and
Nakov (2015) and Burg (2011), among many others.
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Denition of the Research Area
The boundaries of South-Eastern Europe may differ because of various geographic
and political reasons. Here SEE comprises the area that generally coincides with the
Balkan Peninsula (Fig. 1). The north-westernmost border of this area is located
Fig. 1 A simplied geological sketch of SouthEastern Europe. The sketch is a modied
compilation of the Geological Atlas of Serbia 1:2.000.000 (Dimitrijević2002), the International
Geological Map of Europe and Adjacent Areas (Ash et al. 2004), the Geological map of the
CarpathoBalkanides between Mehadia, Oravița, Nišand Soa (Kräutner and Krstić2006), and
the Tectonic map of the CarpathianBalkan mountain system and adjacent areas (Mahel 1973).
Geotectonic and geological sketches of some parts of SEE by Schmid et al. (2008), Dimitrijević
(1997), Karamata (2006), Robertson and Shallo (2000), and von Quadt et al. (2005) were also
used. Explanations (by the order of appearance in the text): 1Hellenic trench, 2Metohija
depression, 3Maritsa valley, 4KrivajaKonjuh ultramacs, 5Zlatibor ultramacs, 6Mirdita
ophiolitic massif, 7Pindos ophiolitic massif, 8Othrys ophiolitic massif, 9Mureșvalley
(Transylvanian nappes), 10 SerboMacedonian Massif, 11 Strandja, 12 CircumRhodope belt, 13
North Dobrogea orogen, 14 Getic unit, 15 Danubian nappes, 16 Sredna Gora, 17 Balkan unit
(Stara planina), 18 CeahlăuSeverin ophiolite belt, 19 Morava unit, 20 Vertiskos unit, 21 Biharia
nappes, 22 Drama unit, 23 SanaUna unit, 24 Central Bosnian Schist Mts. unit, 25 Lim Paleozoic
unit, 26 Korabi unit, 27 Pelagonian unit, 28 Levkas island, 29 Jadar unit, 30 DrinaIvanjica unit,
31 Kopaonik Mts. unit, 32 Paikon unit, 33 Kragujevac ophiolite complex, 34 Kuršumlija ophiolite
complex, 35 GuevgeliaDemir Kapija ophiolite, 36 Eastern Hellenic ophiolites, 37 Sava Zone, 38
Kosovska Mitrovica Flysch, 39 Crete, 40 Dacic basin (Eastern Paratethys), 41 Mesta halfgraben
Geology of South-Eastern Europe 3
cvladica@rgf.bg.ac.rs
south of Ljubljana and north of Istria, and its northern boundary is delineated by the
Sava River, from Zagreb until its junction with the Danube, and further by the
Danube River, all the way from Belgrade down to the Black Sea. The other borders
of the SEE to the east, south and west are delineated by the coastal areas of the
Black, Aegean, Ionian and Adriatic Seas, respectively. Politically, this region
comprises the southern parts of Slovenia and Croatia, central and southern Serbia
(including Kosovo), south-easternmost Romania (Dobrogea), the European part of
Turkey, and the entire territories of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania
and Greece.
In terms of present day geomorphology, the SEE region begins along the
junction between the south-eastern Alps and the north-western Dinarides and
encompasses the entire DinarideAlbanideHellenide, CarpathoBalkan and
Rhodope mountain belts (see inset in Fig. 1). This rather complex orogenic realm
contains a few smaller depressions, such as, for instance, the Metohija depression
and the Maritza valley, whereas several lowlands occurring along the coastal areas
are directly related to the above mentioned Seas. These recent depositional systems
stay beyond the scope of this presentation.
Terminology
The specialists in applied geology usually face problems when acquiring a solid
knowledge of the regional geological framework of a given area. This is so, because
they are often bewildered by unnecessarily detailed geodynamic explanations or by
too complicated and incomprehensible stratigraphic and lithological divisions. We
think that a more simplied approach that follows a simple motto: geology through
geodynamics, can be of use for those who may not be entirely familiar with recent
developments in basic geo-disciplines. Therefore, we rst briey summarize
essential theoretical aspects and explain the most important elements of the ter-
minology used. This will surely strengthen the capability of future readers to follow
our interpretations.
In a most simplistic way, the evolution of an orogen involves that two lithospheric
plates, each having different stratigraphic and tectonic histories, approach each other
and, nally, weld by collision (see Skinner et al. 2003). The process of approaching
occurs via subduction, by which usually oceanic areas in-between the converging
continental plates often become totally consumed. After collision and welding the
two once separated plates stick together, and this means that no intervening ocean
exists anymore. What remains are relicts of the vanished ocean: different parts of the
oceans bottom (mainly peridotites and basalts) and overlying sediments (cherts,
various siliciclastic sediments, sometimes carbonates, etc.). Some of the originally
intervening oceans do not disappear entirely via subduction but are obducted as huge
4 V. Cvetkovic et al.
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ophiolitic sheets onto continental realms. Obduction means that the oceanic plate
overrides the continent and during this process a mix of exotic rock masses that may
represent any lithology derived from the margins of the colliding oceanic and
continental plates is preserved. Such tectono-stratigraphically very complex mixed
units underneath the obducted oceanic plates are referred to as ophiolitic mélange,
whereas obducted peridotites are usually named ophiolite. An ophiolite basically
represents a section of the Earths oceanic lithosphere that has been uplifted and
exposed above sea level and often emplaced onto continental crust.
The above described orogen (i.e., a mountain belt) forming processes are
commonly followed by post-orogenic phases, during which the earlier compression
tectonics are replaced by strike-slip or purely extension regimes. This tectonic
switch is mostly controlled by local changes in relative plate motions, and com-
monly evolves into gravitational (isostatic) instability and orogen collapse. The
major driving force for the lithospheric extension is rapid advective thinning of the
shortened thermal boundary conduction layer, which occurs beneath an orogen and
causes a rapid uplift (Dewey 1988). In some places, the extension involves the
formation of steeply dipping, crustal- to lithospheric-scale fractures, whereas in
other places low-angle detachment faults substantially stretch the former orogen,
exhuming deeper parts of the crust to the Earths surface. These exhumed parts are
called metamorphic core complexes. These processes usually produce sedimen-
tary basins and magmatism within transtensional/transpressional wrench corridors
or within larger extensional areas.
In accordance to the explanations given above, the geology of SEE will be
simply presented in terms of the formation of a complex mobile belt via disap-
pearance of an earlier ocean. The term orogenis used to delineate parts of this
complex mobile belt, and always also has a geographical connotation (e.g. Dinaride
orogen, CarpathoBalkanide orogen, etc.). By the term unit(or sometimes
mega-unit) we delineate a geological entity formed during a similar time-span that
has similar geotectonic and stratigraphic characteristics, but without implications
whether that unit represents an earlier microcontinent or an erosion/tectonic win-
dow. In a similar way the terms: mass,massif ,block,beltor zoneare used.
The notion terrane, however, is applied in the sense of Keppie and Dallmeyer
(1990) and denotes a microplate that via subduction of a consuming oceanic was
welded to (or docked to) another microplate or terrane. Note that the term suture
zone’—which normally represents a narrow belt located in-between two terranes,
we here use in a wider sense, i.e. as mega-suturefor delineating the area that
comprises all remnants of the Vardar Tethys. The main collision described below
occurred between two large continental plates often also referred to as Eurasiaand
Gondwana(Fig. 1). The former is also named European continent, or simply
Europe, whereas the parts of the latter present in SEE are referred to as Africa or
its promontories, known as Adria or Apulia.
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Geology of South-East Europe
Time-Space Framework of the Vardar Tethys Ocean
Geological development of the Vardar Tethys is still a matter of an ongoing debate
(Karamata 2006; Robertson et al. 2009; Dilek and Furnes 2011). Therefore, we
must rst agree upon the most salient and widely accepted features of its evolution.
For instance, there are conicting opinions about how many oceans did exist in the
SEE area. Some authors argue in favour of the existence of more than one ocean,
suggesting that each left behind its own suture zone, whereas others believe that
there was only one ocean and, consequently, only one suture. The latter consider
many occurrences of ophiolites and ophiolitic mélanges as representing pieces of
obducted oceanic lithosphere rather than suture zones. There are also disagreements
with respect to the life-span of the ocean(s). Some authors suggest that the ocean (or
more) opened in early- to mid-Triassic, others think that the Vardar Tethysoceanic
crust was present in SEE as early as in Paleozoic times. Most authors think that an
oceanic realm of the Vardar Tethys was still open in the Late Cretaceous, whereas a
minority still believes that the closure nished in Upper Jurassic/Early Cretaceous
times. The above mentioned controversies are the subject of many papers (e.g.:
Bernoulli and Laubscher 1972; Smith and Spray 1984;Săndulescu 1988; Robertson
and Karamata 1994; Channell and Kozur 1997; Dimitrijević2001; Golonka 2004;
Haas and Pero 2004; Stampi and Borel 2004; Bortolotti and Principi 2005;
Schmid et al. 2008; Robertson et al. 2009, among many others). In these papers
many different names appear for oceans and/or related ophiolites/ophiolite
mélanges and suture zones, for instance: Neotethys (±Mesozoic Tethys), Vardar
(±Axios), Dinaride (±Mirdita ±Pindos), Maliak-Meliata, Hallstadt, etc., and this
adds to confusion and makes the comprehension of the already complex geology of
this region even more difcult.
Although some of the above explained problematic issues will be addressed later
(see section Syn-VardarTethyan Geology of SEE), it is important to clearly state
which scenario of the origin and evolution of the Vardar Tethys is adopted here.
This starting point has important bearings to the entire division and organization of
further geological presentation.
We base our simplied geological interpretation on a piece of information upon
which most authors agree, namely on the view that there formerly existed at least
one ocean in the region of present day SEE. It is generally referred to as Neotethys,
and was distinguished from the Paleotethys whose remnants in Turkey and east-
wards are uncontested by all authors. Furthermore, most authors agree that parts of
the Neotethys Ocean remained open during most of Mesozoic time. Hence, our
simple approach has similarities with the single ocean scenario,rst proposed by
Bernoulli and Laubscher (1972) and Baumgartner (1985), and recently rened and
reformulated by Schmid et al. (2008). This scenario assumes that the (geographi-
cally) multiple belt of ophiolites and ophiolitic mélangesstretching all the way
from north-western Dinarides to Southern Greece (and further to Turkey and Iran),
6 V. Cvetkovic et al.
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encompasses remnants of a single ancient oceanic realmNeotethys, hereafter
named Vardar Tethys. In this sense, this entire ophiolite-bearing complex orogenic
belt can be considered a single very wide VardarTethyan mega-suture. The
western margin of this mega-suture is marked by the westernmost occurrences of
the Jurassic ophiolites and ophiolitic mélanges in Bosnia (KrivajaKonjuh), west
Serbia (Zlatibor), east Albania (Mirdita) and central Greece (Pindos and Othris).
The western margin terminates in the north-west at around Zagreb, whereas the
eastern margin is buried beneath the thick cover of Pannonian sediments and
reappears in the Mures valley, as part of the Transylvanian nappes (Balintoni 1994).
This entire and very wide mega-suture zone crosses the Aegean Sea and outcrops
again in Asia Minor of Turkey.
Summarizing, the geological division which follows invokes that: (1) all
Mesozoic geological units located within the VardarTethyan mega-suture are rock
masses that formed during the life-span of this Mesozoic ocean, (2) all
pre-Mesozoic geological entities that primarily occurred on both sides of the ocean
record parts of the Pre-VardarTethyan geological history, and (3) all geological
units that seal the contacts of the mega-suture and its shoulders are results of
post-VardarTethyan geology. In the presentation that follows these three time
periods are ordered chronologically.
Pre-VardarTethyan Geology of SEE
Pre-VardarTethyan geological record is predominantly found in the areas west and
east from the main mega-suture. These two broad continental margins underwent
different geological evolutions during Paleozoic and pre-Paleozoic times. In the
division below, the pre-Mesozoic geological entities located eastward from the
mega-suture represent relicts of the southern margin of the ancient European
continent (Eurasia), whereas the units outcropping on the western/southwestern
side of the mega-suture are parts of the northern margin of Gondwana or its
promontories (Adria or Apulia). In addition, several pre- to early Mesozoic geo-
logical units presently outcrop within the mega-suture itself. Some authors (see
Robertson et al. 2009 and references therein) interpret these units as terranesi.e.
as microcontinents, which once separated different oceanic realms. As already
mentioned above, we here adopt a scenario in which these basement units are
considered distal parts of the Gondwana margin, i.e. distal parts of Adria (see
section Pre-VardarTethyan geology of the Gondwana continent and Fig. 1).
It needs to be stressed that the pre-VardarTethyan geological history of both
sides of the major mega-suture is difcult to discern, because the geological records
are only fragmentarily exposed and because they were later subject to different
periods of tectonic and sedimentary reworking. This is especially valid for the
Gondwana margin, because during the syn- and post-VardarTethyan time, this
area underwent deposition of platform carbonates and locally siliciclastic sedi-
ments. Although also partly obscured, the pre-VardarTethyan geological record on
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cvladica@rgf.bg.ac.rs
the European side is better exposed and it provides evidence that this area evolved
through geodynamic processes similar to those related to the SEE geological
evolution, characterized by the disappearance of oceanic realms and collisional
accretion of continental units to the European mainland.
Pre-VardarTethyan Geology of the European Continent
Pre-VardarTethyan geology on the European side is reected by geological units
formed from Precambrian to Mesozoic times. These complex units occur within
three mega tectonic continental blocks: the Moesian platform, the Dacia mega-unit
(including the SerboMacedonian Massif) and the Rhodopes (including Strandja).
These individual units represent huge and more or less complex nappe piles, which
differ in their age and geological evolution and whose remnants discontinuously
appear below a Mesozoic and younger cover. Note, however, that the Circum
Rhodope Belt (Kauffmann et al. 1976), which fringes part of the Serbo-Macedonian
Massif and the Rhodopes in northern Greece, is not considered here as part of the
European margin but as an element of the main mega-suture (see further below).
The Moesian Platform in SEE comprises the regions of northern Bulgaria and
South Dobrogea in Romania. It is now largely covered by younger sediments and
its basement is reconstructed on the basis of scarce exposures as well as by bore-
holes and seismic data. Moesia is the only tectonic unit of the present SEE, which
was part of the European continent during signicant portion of Paleozoic and
Mesozoic times (Seghedi 2001). It has acted as the margin of stable Europe since
Jurassic Cimmerian orogeny that only marginally affected it and whose remnants
presently occur in north Dobrogea. With respect to VardarTethyan geology, the
Moesian Platform can be regarded as undeformed foreland(Schmid et al. 2008). It
is composed of Neoproterozoic (Panafrican) metamorphic rocks that only locally
record a Variscan overprint (Seghedi et al. 2005; Oczlon et al. 2007). Most of the
deformation of the South Carpathians and the Balkanides has occurred along the
boundaries of the stable Moesian platform (Fügenschuh and Schmid 2005).
In contrast to predominantly covered Moesia, the metamorphic basement of
the Dacia mega-unit outcrops in many places. In Serbia, this unit corresponds to the
area between the eastern border of the mega-suture (i.e. Eastern Vardar) and the
Moesian Platform, which integrates two systems of nappes: the Serbo-Macedonian
Massif and the East Serbian CarpathoBalkanides. Towards the south they form
two branches: one goes directly southwards, as the continuation of the Serbo
Macedonian Massif in the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia and
Greece, and the other continues south-eastwards, and merges with the composite
Balkan unit in Bulgaria (Burchel and Nakov 2015). Across the Danube, the Dacia
mega-unit continues to the northeast into the South Carpathians of Romania,
whereas in the north it is bordered by another European mega-unit named Tiszia
(e.g. Csontos and Vörös2004). The Tiszia unit is outside of the SEE region and will
not be addressed in this study.
8 V. Cvetkovic et al.
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The internal part of Dacia consists of the East Serbian CarpathoBalkanides
often referred to as the Getic unit and the Danubian nappes, according to Romanian
nomenclature, and by their lateral counterparts in Bulgariathe Sredna Gora unit
and the Balkan unit (or Stara Planina). More eastern analogues of these units can be
found in the Pontides of NW Anatolia. These individual geological entities are, in
fact, poorly exposed collages of Paleozoic units and/or terranes that have a
Gondwana afnity. The units often have local names, for instance: Median Dacides
Danubian (Vrška ČukaMiroč)central/pre-Balkan or InfrabucovinianGetic
(Kučaj)KraishteSredna Gora units, etc. The contacts between them are obscured
by later compressive tectonics and by deposition of a younger Mesozoic and
Cenozoic sedimentary cover. The largest preserved suture-like belt is the one com-
posed of IutiDonji MilanovacDeli JovanZaglavakČerni Vrah gabbro-diabase
(±peridotite) complexes. The Deli Jovan complex is dated to Early Devonian
(Zakariadze et al. 2012), which suggests that these so-called Danubian Ophiolites
represent relicts of an Ediacarian-Early Cambrian ocean and magmatic complex
(Kounov et al. 2012). Where exposed, the Dacia-derived basement is represented by
medium- to high-grade Neoproterozoic (Panafrican) to Early Paleozoic gneiss and
Paleozoic greenschist to sub-greenschist metabasic rocks. The basement is uncon-
formably overlain by Late Carboniferous to Permian uvial sediments (Iancu et al.
2005), with detrital material derived from the European continent. The basement is
also intruded by Variscan plutons that crop out at many places in Serbia (e.g.
Neresnica, Gornjani, Ziman, etc.; Šarićet al. 2014) and Bulgaria (e.g. Vezhen,
Hisara, Smilovene, etc.; Carrigan et al. 2005). Large parts of the Dacia mega-unit
were separated from the European continent along the Ceahlau-Severin oceanic rift
which extends from Ukraine into north-westernmost Bulgaria. The closure of this
basin in the Lower Cretaceous was followed by later phases of emplacement of these
nappe systems from the Late Cretaceous to Miocene times (Săndulescu 1984;
Kräutner and Krstić2006; Burchel and Nakov 2015).
The SerboMacedonian Massif represents the structurally uppermost part of
Dacia and a more internal unit with respect to the above described Carpatho
Balkanides and is comparable to the Supragetic nappe of Romania (Schmid et al.
2008). It is a crystalline belt of Paleozoic-age high to medium grade metamorphic
rocks that are generally distinguished into the Lower and the Upper Complex
(Dimitrijević1957,1997). The Lower complex is composed of gneiss, micaschists
and subordinate amphibolites, quartzites, marbles and migmatites. They occur as
relicts of a Late Neoproterozoic-earliest Cambrian high- to medium-grade meta-
morphic belt that formed during the Cadomian orogeny and which underwent
overprints in Variscan and Alpine times (Balogh et al. 1994). The rocks of the
Upper Complex represent a Cadomian volcano-sedimentary sequence, which was
only metamorphosed under greenschist facies conditions. They are intruded by
Cadomian igneous rocks and are covered by post-Cambrian sedimentary series
(Kräutner and Krstić2002). According to most authors the Bulgarian part of the
SerboMacedonian Massif in Bulgaria is also known as the Morava unit (Kounov
et al. 2004), whereas in Greece this same massif is referred to as Vertiskos Unit (i.e.
Kockel et al. 1971, although some authors interpret Vertiskos as being part of the
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Rhodopes (Burg 2011). The northern continuation of the SerboMacedonian
Massif is documented in the drill-cores in the Pannonian basin (e.g. Kemenci and
Čanović1997) and its northern counterparts outcrop again as part of the Biharia
nappes of the Apuseni Mountains (sensu Schmid et al. 2008).
The most internal Europe-derived geological units in the south-east are the very
complex tectonic units of the Rhodopes and overlying Strandja. In the east, large
parts of the Rhodopes are covered by Cenozoic basin sequences. However, due to
post-thickening extension of the Rhodopes starting in the Eocene, various originally
deep-seated high- to medium-grade metamorphic rocks became exhumed and are
now exposed in the mountains of southern Bulgaria and northern Greece (Burg
2011). According to many authors the Rhodope massif comprises a south- to
southwestward facing nappe stack. However, north-facing tectonic transport has
also been documented in the Rhodopes, particularly in the Eastern Rhodopes
(Bonev et al. 2015). There is also an ongoing debate about the origin of thin
ophiolitic bodies found within the Rhodopes. According to some (e.g. Froitzheim
et al. 2014), these have their origin in the Vardar Ocean, i.e. in our Vardar
Tethyan mega-suture. Classically, they were attributed to a former Mesozoic Ocean
located between the main part of the European continent and a more southerly
located continental block named Drama block, which is still of European afnity
and is located north of the VardarTethyan mega-suture (e.g. Turpaud and
Reischmann 2010).
The Rhodope massif underwent high- to ultra-high pressure metamorphism
(Liati and Seidel 1996; Mposkos and Kostopoulos 2001; Kostopoulos et al. 2003),
supposedly at various times starting in the Jurassic, and was subsequently over-
printed by granulite and amphibolite facies (Liati and Seidel 1996; Carrigan et al.
2002; Liati et al. 2002). Similarly to the Carpatho-Balkanides, the Rhodope massif
is also pierced by Variscan intrusives (e.g. Arda and Startsevo; Cherneva and
Gheorgieva 2005). This suggests that Variscan late- or post-collision granitoid
magmatism is a common feature for the European part of the pre-Tethyan base-
ment, as was found in other parts of the Alpine orogen (e.g. Finger et al. 1997). The
Rhodopes are separated from the overlying Strandja unit by Jurassic thrusts and
often by younger Cenozoic faults (Kilias et al. 1999; Georgiev et al. 2001; Okay
et al. 2001; Brun and Sokoutis 2007; Bonev et al. 2015). Strandja is part of the
north-verging Cimmerian orogen. This basement-cover unit is formed by
northward-verging nappes in Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous time. From this time
onwards, the Strandja belongs to the Balkan part of the complex AlpineHimalayan
mobile belt.
Pre-VardarTethyan Geology of the Gondwana Continent
Pre-Mesozoic outcrops presently occurring westwards from the main mega-suture
represent remnants of the northern margin of the ancient Gondwana continent. In
this synthesis we distinguish three major tectonic entities, namely: the External
Dinarides sensu lato, the Dalmatian-Ionian Zone and Stable Adria (Apulia).
10 V. Cvetkovic et al.
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The External Dinarides s.l. are composed of a system of westward-vergent
Mesozoic and younger nappes. Their Paleozoic basement is scarcely exposed,
predominantly in form of tectonic or erosion windows. This basement records only
weak metamorphism in Variscan times, with again a weak metamorphic overprint
in Cretaceous and Cenozoic times (Pamićet al. 2004; Hrvatovićand Pamić2005).
It comprises separate Paleozoic units, such as Sana-Una, Central Bosnian Schist
Mts. and Lim Paleozoic, which occur from Croatia, through Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Montenegro to SW Serbia. The hemipelagic Pindos Zone stretches
from Greece to Montenegro, but disappears NW-wards south of Dubrovnik. The
more external hemipelagic Ionian Zone, crossing the Adriatic Sea SE-wards from
Italy into Albania is only exposed in Albania and Greece. Its pre-Mesozoic base-
ment, however, is completely covered by Mesozoic carbonate platform sediments
(Robertson and Shallo 2000). In front of the Ionian Zone one enters the Apulian
carbonate platform exposed on Ionian islands (e.g. Levkas). This platform sequence
is part of the Adria/Apulia plate, which acted as the main indenter along which the
External Dinarides and more internal units, as well as the Alps were deformed
(Schmid and Kissling 2000). In this context, the immediate basement of the Ionian
zone, which possesses the structurally lowermost position, is represented by
Pre-Apulia and Apulia and can be correlated by non-deformed parts of Istria (Stable
Adria in Fig. 1).
As noted earlier, several continental blocks are located within the mega-suture
itself and they are considered as distal parts of the ancient Gondwana margin. These
basement units include (from NNW to SSE): Jadar, Drina-Ivanjica, and Kopaonik
Mts. (including the Studenica slice) in Serbia, Korabi in Albania, and Pelagonia in
the FYR of Macedonia and Greece. All these units are predominantly composed of
non- to low-grade metamorphic Paleozoic clastic sediments overlain by
Permian/Triassic carbonates that are often transformed into marbles and intercalated
with rift-related igneous rocks (Zelićet al. 2005; Sudar and Kovács 2006; Schefer
et al. 2010). The south-eastern counterparts of these units are the Korabi and
Pelagonian zones that mostly occur in Eastern Albania and Greece. Both the Korabi
and Pelagonian zones record a more pronounced Variscan metamorphic and
magmatic overprint and show transitions from an arc to a passive margin setting
(Clift and Robertson 1990; Robertson and Shallo 2000). The Pelagonian zone is
intruded by Variscan granitoids (Mountrakis 1984), similar outcrops are not present
in situ in the Korabi zone. However, granitoids of a similar age are found as
allochthonous blocks within the ophiolite mélange sequences in west Serbia or as
pebbles in the sequence overlying mélange (e.g. Neubauer et al. 2003). All the
above mentioned Paleozoic/earliest Mesozoic basement units were originally
overlain by westward obducted ophiolites, but they acquired their present structural
setting by later out-of-sequence thrusting, mostly during the Latest Cretaceous to
Early Cenozoic.
Geology of South-Eastern Europe 11
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Syn-VardarTethyan Geology of SEE
This geological evolution is characterized by the formation of ophiolitic rock
masses during the opening of the Vardar Tethys in mid-Triassic time until its nal
closure in the late Mesozoic. These ocean-derived rocks presently occur within the
mega-suture either as parts of mostly allochthonous sequences, reworked during
collision and afterwards, or as predominantly autochthonous series that overlie the
pre-Mesozoic basements of the Gondwana and European margins. We begin with
the mega-suture itself, because this is the area which hosts all the remnants of the
Mesozoic Vardar Tethys.
Syn-VardarTethyan Geology of the Mega-Suture
The VardarTethyan mega-suture consists of lithologies that physically record the
former existence of Mesozoic oceanic lithosphere. In general, they are represented
by ophiolites and trench/accretionary wedge (mélange) assemblages. Although it is
a highly heterogeneous rock association, all its lithological members have in
common that they either originated or were reworked/displaced during the life-span
of the Vardar Tethys, including its closure via subduction, obduction and collision
processes.
In terms of geographic distribution, at least three subparallel ophiolite belts are
distinguished, each spatially associated with their mélanges. The easternmost
ophiolitic sub-belt is known as Eastern Vardar (also called Main Vardar by some
authors, see Dimitrijević1997). In Serbia and FYR of Macedonia it occurs as a
narrow and N-S elongated ophiolite belt and it widens from the Belgrade area north
eastwards into Romania. In the east, it is in direct contact with the Serbo
Macedonian Massif, and in the west it is often delineated by overlying Senonian
ysch sediments, as well as by the contact with the above described parts of the distal
Adria (e.g. Kopaonik Mts. and Paikon unit). The Eastern Vardar comprises small
occurrences near Kragujevac and Kuršumlija in Serbia and larger masses near Demir
Kapija and Guevgelia in FYR of Macedonia and those of the easternmost Hellenic
ophiolites in the Thessaloniki area. The northern continuation of this zone is covered
by the Pannonian sediments (Čanovićand Kemenci 1999), but the belt crops out
again as part of Transylvanian nappes in the Apuseni Mts. (Săndulescu 1984;
Balintoni 1994). Further to the south, this unit grades into the so-called Circum
Rhodope Belt (Kockel et al. 1971; Michard et al. 1994; Meinhold and Kostopoulos
2013)a belt that consists of a mixture of ophiolitic rocks and rocks of the European
continental margin. This belt is called CircumRhodope because it surrounds the
Rhodopes in the west (Thessaloniki area), south (NE Greece) and in the east
(easternmost Bulgaria), where it links with the Strandja orogen. Structurally,
Strandja overlies the Rhodope unit. The Eastern Vardar consists of igneous ophiolite
members, mainly basalt, diabase and gabbro, whereas peridotites are remarkably
rare. The rocks possess the strongest supra-subduction zone (SSZ) afnity of all the
12 V. Cvetkovic et al.
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ophiolites from this region (Brown and Robertson 2004;Šarićet al. 2009;Božović
et al. 2013), indicating that large parts of them formed in the upper plate of an
intra-oceanic subduction zone. The age of formation of the ophiolites is mid-Jurassic
and their nal emplacement age is constrained as uppermost Jurassic by both
stratigraphic (Bortolotti et al. 2002;Săsăran 2006; Kukočet al. 2015) and radio-
metric evidence (Anders et al. 2005;Božovićet al. 2013). Although, some authors
(e.g. Schmid et al. 2008) argue that the Eastern Vardar ophiolites are the structurally
highest tectonic entity within the Dacia mega-unit and that they were probably
obducted onto the European Margin, its original emplacement is still a matter of
debate (Petrovićet al. in press).
Going westward, the next ophiolite belt encountered is the Western Vardar
ophiolite belt and even further west one nds the Dinaride-Mirdita-Pindos ophiolite
belt (e.g. Jones and Robertson 1991; Lugovićet al. 1991; Beccaluva et al. 1994;
Shallo 1995; Bazylev et al. 2009). These two belts occupy gradually more external
positions with respect to the main axis of the Balkan Peninsula and are geo-
graphically separated by the outcrops of DrinaIvanjicaKorabPelagonia
Paleozoic basement of distal Adria, and its Mesozoic cover. The Western Vardar
ophiolites comprise large predominantly ultramac massifs in Serbia (Maljen,
Stolovi, Kopaonik Mts., etc.) and smaller masses in FYR of Macedonia and Greece
(e.g. Almopya). The most prominent peridotites massifs of the DinarideMirdita
Pindos ophiolite belt are the KrivajaKonjuh massif of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
the MirditaTropoja, Kukes, Bulquiza massifs of Albania and the Pindos and
Vourinos massifs of Greece. As already mentioned, these two ophiolite belts are
best regarded as parts of the same piece of the Vardar Tethys oceanic lithosphere,
which was more or less uniformly obducted towards the west, i.e. onto the passive
margin of the Gondwana continent. Hence, we agree with the view of Schmid et al.
(2008) that these ophiolites should be collectively named Western Vardar to dis-
tinguish them from the Eastern Vardar ophiolites. The view of a single Western
Vardar ophiolite belt is supported by the following observations: (a) these ophio-
lites are predominantly represented by large ultramac bodies, whereas pillow
basalts, diabases and gabbros are subordinate, (b) the ultramac slices were
emplaced as hot plates that produced so-called metamorphic sole assemblagesat
their base, some of them displaying classical inverted P-T gradients (e.g. Brezovica;
Karamata 1968), (c) the metamorphic sole rocks exhibit similar age ranges
(Lanphere et al. 1975; Okrusch et al. 1978; Spray et al. 1984; Dimo-Lahitte et al.
2001; Bazylev et al. 2009), and (d) the ophiolites show a continuous change in
composition, going from west to east, from a mid-ocean-ridge- (MOR) to a
supra-subduction zone (SSZ) geotectonic afnity (Maksimovićand Majer 1981;
Bortolotti et al. 2002). Some of the westernmost ophiolite occurrences, such as parts
of the Krivaja-Konjuh massif in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ozren in SW Serbia
exhibit an extremely fertile geochemical signature typical of subcontinental litho-
spheric mantle (Bazylev et al. 2009; Faul et al. 2014). Thus, when also including the
Eastern Vardar into consideration, it is clear that all SEE ophiolites show a general
compositional shift from west to east: from the least-depleted subcontinental
Geology of South-Eastern Europe 13
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mantle-like peridotites, through typical MORB ophiolites and transitional MORB
SSZ ones up to those that exhibit a pronounced SSZ afnity.
Besides the above described remnants of the bottom of the Vardar Tethys,
represented by pieces of lithospheric mantle (ultramacs) and overlying oceanic
crust (gabbro-diabase-basalt), the syn-VardarTethyan geology is recorded by
rocks of subduction trench and accretionary wedge assemblages. In the Serbian
literature, this series is commonly named DiabaseHornstein-, DiabaseChert or
DiabaseRadiolarite Formation (Kossmat 1924;Ćirićand Karamata 1960) and we
here refer to it as ophiolitic mélange. The main substrate of the mélange is repre-
sented by Upper Jurassic terrigenous sediments deposited in a tectonically active
subduction trench. They consist of a non-metamorphosed to slightly metamor-
phosed silty material mostly derived from volcanic rocks and basalts, which
encloses up to several meters long lenses or boudin-like blocks of sandstones
(±conglomerates). This terrigenous matrix hosts blocks (olistoliths) with sizes
varying from several meters up to a few tens of meters, which show variable
lithologies, such as pillow-, massive- and hyaloclastic basalt and radiolarite (both
Triassic and Jurassic), gabbro-diabase, serpentinite, and rare granitoids. At some
places, this heterogeneous association also comprises several tens of km long
masses of Triassic limestone. These are either products of gravitational gliding into
the trench in which case are named olistoplaques (Dimitrijevićand Dimitrijević
1973) or, alternatively, they were tectonically sliced off the Gondwana margin
during obduction (Schmid et al. 2008). At a late stage during obduction the trench
sediments and ophiolitic mélanges were obducted by the large and still hot ultra-
mac bodies of the Western Vardar oceanic lithosphere and this produced the
already mentioned contact-metamorphic rocks known as metamorphic soles.
Syn-VardarTethyan Geology of the European Side
During most of the Mesozoic the European continental margin predominantly acted
as the eastern passive margin of the Vardar Tethys. In the Early Triassic continental
red beds were deposited over the basement of the Dacia mega-unit. In Middle to Late
Triassic, this sedimentation gradually evolved into the deposition of shallow marine
limestones, and deposition of terrestrial sandstones continued throughout the Early
Jurassic (Gresten facies). Later on, the basin suddenly deepened, giving way
to Middle Jurassic deposition of radiolarite and Late Jurassic/Early Cretaceous
deposition of pelagic sediments. The main phase of east-directed (in present-day
coordinates and in Eastern Serbia) nappe stacking formed during the mid-Cretaceous
(so-called Austrianphase). This is evident from the age of a post-tectonic cover
composed of Albian to Cenomanian Molasse-type deposits that are widespread in
the Romanian Carpathians. Locally, however, this part of the European continent
was also affected by Late Cretaceous deformation (Laramianphase), as pointed
out by Săndulescu (1984). Due to late uplifts of the more distal (more frontal) parts
of the European margin, such sedimentary record is rare in the SerboMacedonian
Massif and in the Rhodopes.
14 V. Cvetkovic et al.
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The record of active subduction processes along the western margin of
the European continent is found in the Eastern Vardar Zone. It was related to the
formation of the Paikon arc (Brown and Robertson 2004) in the mid-Jurassic. This
arc is considered to be a short-lived feature, because soon after its formation, it was
inuenced by slab rollback and spreading behind the arc. This led to the formation
of the oceanic crust preserved in the Demir Kapija and Guevgelia ophiolites in FYR
of Macedonia (Božovićet al. 2013).
Syn-VardarTethyan Geology of the Gondwana Side
The rock record of the Permian to Triassic intracontinental rifting phase, by which
the Vardar Tethys formed, is abundant on the Gondwana side of the mega-suture. In
addition to many places in the mega-suture itself, from NW Bosnia and
Herzegovina to Greece, these rocks crop out throughout the External Dinarides s.l.
in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. These are mostly auto-
chthonous rock sequences that consist of shallow-water marine/lagoonal lime-
stones, often with gypsum layers, and continental siliciclastic sediments. They are
associated with predominantly mid-Triassic volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks that
range widely in composition from tholeiitic to calc-alkaline and from basalt to
rhyolite (Pamić1984). The Triassic of the proximal parts of the Gondwana margin
was characterized by deposition of thick shallow-water carbonate sediments
(Rampnoux 1970), whereas at more distal places continental slope facies or even
basinal facies deposited, for instance Ladinian/Carnian siliceous limestones
(Dimitrijevićand Dimitrijević1991; Schefer et al. 2010). This deposition continued
into the Jurassic and produced thick radiolarite sequences in Bosnia and SW Serbia
(Rampnoux 1970; Pamić2000; Vishnevskaya and Ðerić2005).
In the Late Jurassic, huge masses of ophiolites were obducted to the west and
covered large parts of the eastern distal margins of the Gondwana continent. By
later out-of-sequence trusting these obducted ophiolites were deformed and at
places also dismembered and these tectonic and subsequent erosion processes left
parts of the underlying basement exposed. This post-obduction thrusting also
affected narrow deep-water intervening basins. One such basin is, for instance, the
Budva Zone in Montenegro, KrastaCukali Zone in Albania and the Pindos
Olonos Zone in Greece (Robertson and Shallo 2000; Schmid et al. 2008). Some of
these basins, such as the Flysch Bosniaque(Aubouin et al. 1970) continue to be
active from the latest Jurassic into the Cenozoic, although varying both along and
across strike with respect to paleotectonic conditions and source areas (see expla-
nations in Schmid et al. 2008).
Geology of South-Eastern Europe 15
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Post-VardarTethyan Geology of South-East Europe
The post-VardarTethyan geological evolution refers to the time period from the
nal closure of the Vardar Tethys until present. It comprises all rocks that strati-
graphically overlie the mega-suture and seal the contacts between the suture and the
surrounding geological units. The oldest unconformable cover of the mega-suture is
represented by Tithonian reef limestones and Lower Cretaceous ysch-like clastic
sediments. From this, one could theoretically infer that all geological formations
that are younger than the Lower Cretaceous would naturally belong to the
post-VardarTethyan geology. However, this is not so simple because not all the
elements of the mega-suture closed in Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous. Therefore,
we must face a still open question, namely: did the entire Vardar Tethys close by
uppermost Jurassic/lowermost Cretaceous times or, alternatively, did some of its
realms oored by oceanic crust remain still open throughout the Late Cretaceous or
even later? In other words, at what time does the post-VardarTethyan geology
really start?
The Late Cretaceous, Its Magmatism and the Problem of the Sava Zone
Late Cretaceous time was a period of formation of widespread ysch sediments,
whose remnants are mostly preserved in the Serbian and Macedonian part of the
Balkan Peninsula. They were deposited within deep and elongated troughs that
post-date obduction. Some of these ysch sediments are only slightly deformed,
others are strongly deformed and they all passively overlie the ophiolites, ophiolitic
mélange and basement rocks of the Adria distal margin, as already noticed by
Kossmat (1924). One narrow belt called Savaor SavaVardar zone (Pamić2002)
begins south of Zagreb and stretches WNW-ESE towards Belgrade, and then
apparently inects and continues as a very narrow strip further southward to FYR of
Macedonia (Fig. 1). Its continuation can be further traced in the Izmir area of
Western Turkey (Bornova ysch of Izmir Ankara suture Zone; Okay et al. 2012).
The southward narrowing and almost disappearance of the Sava zone may have
resulted from substantial compression and uplift of the southern parts of the Balkan
Peninsula in latest Cretaceous to Paleocene times. The Sava zone is younger and
locally more metamorphosed than other Cretaceous ysch belts overlying the
Jurassic mélanges, particularly in Northern Bosnia where upper greenschist to
lower amphibolite facies metamorphism of late Cretaceous age was reached
(Ustaszewski et al. 2010). Because it contains blocks of Late Cretaceous ophiolite-
like basaltdiabase(±gabbro) complexes (Karamata et al. 2005; Ustaszewski et al.
2009; Cvetkovićet al. 2014), some authors believe that the Sava zone is the last
suture that records the former presence of a Tethyan oceanic realm throughout Late
Cretaceous times (Karamata 2006; Schmid et al. 2008; Robertson et al. 2009).
The geotectonic signicance of the Sava zone is crucial for elucidating the entire
post-VardarTethyan geological history. Many authors (see Gallhofer et al. 2015)
16 V. Cvetkovic et al.
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invoke that Late Cretaceous subduction of Sava zone oceanic lithosphere was
responsible for the formation of well-known Late Cretaceous BanatiteTimok
Srednjegorje magmatic and metallogenetic belt (Berza et al. 1998; von Quadt et al.
2005). This is a presently curved but originally straight (Fügenschuh and Schmid
2005) belt that developed within the Dacia-derived basement of the European
margin. It is part of a global subduction belt along the Eurasian active margin,
which can be further traced to the Pontide magmatic arc in Anatolia, and the
SomkhetoKarabakh arc in Lesser Caucasus (e.g. Ciobanu et al. 2002; Georgiev
et al. 2009; Mederer et al. 2013, and references therein). It consists of volcano-
sedimentary complexes formed during Turonian to Campanian times within elon-
gated rift-like basins (Kräutner and Krstić2006). The predominant rocks are
andesite to basaltic/andesite volcanics and volcaniclastics associated to rare plutonic
counterparts. This magmatism produced some of the largest porphyry copper sys-
tems in Europe, such as Bor, Majdanpek and Veliki Krivelj in Serbia and Assarel,
Chelopech and Elatsite in Bulgaria, and some of them are related to signicant
epithermal gold deposits (e.g. Neubauer and Heinrich 2003). The magmatism
shows a strong subduction geochemical afnity and that is explained by an east-
ward subduction under the European continent (Kolb et al. 2013; Gallhofer et al.
2015). This view is supported by the well-established across-arc age pattern that
shows a gradual trenchward younging, in present-day coordinates westward in East
Serbia and southward in Bulgaria (von Quadt et al. 2005; Kolb et al. 2013). In this
context, if the Sava zone indeed hosts remnants of a wide Late Cretaceous oceanic
bottom, then it is a suitable candidate for subduction and formation of the above
mentioned magmatic and metallogenetic belt.
Cenozoic: Period of an Unstable Orogen, Widespread Magmatism
and Formation of Extensional, Sedimentary Basins
The last chapter of the geological history of SEE involves the nal consumption of
Tethyan oceanic remnants and the still ongoing shaping of the global Alpine
Himalayan orogenic belt. The large amount of information ensures that the youngest
geology is well-known, but this does not necessarily mean that the Cenozoic geo-
logical interpretation is simple. On the contrary, there are many controversies about
this geological era as well, and, in keeping with our general approach, we will base
our interpretation only on the issues upon which most authors agree.
Geotectonic Regime in the Cenozoic
During the Cenozoic, the just consolidated DinarideAlbanideHellenide
CarpathianBalkan section of the AlpineHimalayan orogenic belt underwent
remarkable tectonic reworking. The tectonics was controlled by various factors,
ranging from global and regional to purely local in character. The essential tectonic
control is the ongoing N- to NW-directed movement of the Adria microplate as an
Geology of South-Eastern Europe 17
cvladica@rgf.bg.ac.rs
African promontory. This is the major factor of compressive forces in the region,
which led to substantial shortening in the coastal areas of Montenegro, Albania and
Greece. However, since the beginning of the Cenozoic, this general compression
has been associated by numerous regional-scale plate reorganizations and changes
in local tectonic conditions. This made possible that a region undergoing a constant
northward push from the south was able to evolve into local strike-slip or even
purely extensional tectonic regimes, for instance in the Pannonian basin and the
Aegean. These extensional episodes also involved differential rotations of some
tectonic blocks along stable indenters and this primarily shaped the present day
conguration of the SEE orogenic system. As the consequence of the opening of
the Pannonian basin, the orogen split into two branches west and northwest of
Belgradethe Dinarides and the Carpathians including the Apuseni Mountains.
Parts of the orogenic system exhibit remarkable curvatures due to oroclinal bending
around Moesia and Adria as stable indenters, in the east and west, respectively (e.g.
Fügenschuh and Schmid 2005). The (micro)plate re-organizations were also
responsible for establishing regional to local geotectonic regimes, which ranged
from pure compression to transpression in some regions, and transtension to pure
extension in others.
The above mentioned controlling factors and resulting regional to local tectonic
regimes were of supreme importance for the SEE Cenozoic geological evolution. In
the area west of the VardarTethyan mega-suture and along the Adriatic and
south-Aegean coasts (e.g. Crete) the post-VardarTethyan evolution was dominated
by constant crustal shortening and westward and southward out-of sequence
thrusting (see also above). This thrusting was associated with the formation of
exural foreland basins that likely existed from Middle/Late Eocene to Quaternary
(Tari 2002; Merlini et al. 2002). This is corroborated by the evidence of com-
pression tectonics in the SE continuation in Albania and in the Adriatic Sea
(Carminati et al. 2004; Picha 2002). On the other hand, along the VardarTethyan
mega-suture and eastwards from it different tectonomagmatic conditions prevailed.
They gave rise to widespread magmatism and formation of continental depositional
systems. In the following text we illuminate only these two latter aspects of the SEE
geology.
Cenozoic Sedimentary Basins
The formation of the Cenozoic sedimentary basins in SEE was primarily related to
transtension and extension-related deformations that occurred from the Paleogene
onwards. This was generally associated to a constant westward to southward retreat
of E-, NE- to N-dipping subduction fronts, either as true oceanic plate subductions
(subduction s.s.) or as deep underthrustings of thinned continental lithosphere
(subduction s.l.). In response to this retreat, the respective suprasubduction/backarc
areas underwent gravitational collapse and local spreading of previously thickened
continental crust segments. In spite of this generally uniform tectonic framework,
these extensional or extension-like pulses developed diachronously in different SEE
18 V. Cvetkovic et al.
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regions, and these variations were controlled by the nature of the retreating sub-
duction (oceanic vs continental lithosphere) and by local crustal anisotropy of the
pre-Cenozoic basement. In this context, we distinguish the Cenozoic Dacic basin,
and North and Southern Balkan Extensional Sectors (Rögl 1999; Burchel et al.
2003,2008).
The Cenozoic Dacic basin is the western part of what is generally known as
Eastern Paratethys (Rögl 1999). It was a wide sedimentary area, which was left
behind from the much larger Vardar Tethys and since the Oligocene it acted as an
isolated basin oored by continental crust. Most parts of the Eastern Paratethys
occur outside of the northern boundary of SEE as dened in this article, and it will
not be further addressed.
The Balkan Extensional Sector also created the Metohija depression and going
north, encompasses much of the territories of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.
It formed during the phase of opening of intramontane basins in the Dinarides,
within a NNW-SSE wrench corridor associated to steeply dipping normal faults
(Marovićet al. 1999). The main tectonic cause for this event was a dual one: (1) the
westward, and in Greece southward, retreat of the subduction front, associated to
underthrusting of thinned continental crustal slices in the External Dinarides and
Hellenides, which gave rise to gravitational subsidence in the overlying plate, and
(2) retreat of the European slab underneath the Carpathians and opening the
Pannonian basin. The same tectonic conditions were responsible for more or less
contemporaneous magmatism (discussed below). The Northern Balkan Extensional
Sector that underwent a strong tectono-sedimentary and magmatic overprint by the
inuence of the Pannonian extension led to exhumation processes and the forma-
tion of metamorphic core complexes along low-angle normal faults (Marovićet al.
2007; Schefer et al. 2010; Matenco and Radivojević2012).
The Southern Balkan Extensional Sector comprises Albania, FYR of Macedonia
and the southwestern parts of Bulgaria and north-western Greece. Post-orogenic
sedimentary basins in this sector began to form in the late Eocene, when numerous
NW-striking lacustrine basins formed. They were associated to extensional
half-graben structures that originated in the eastern part in the FYR of Macedonia.
Roughly simultaneously, similar basins formed in Bulgaria along NW-striking and
W-dipping detachments, such as, for instance the large Mesta half-graben
(Burchel et al. 2003; Kounov et al. 2004). This extensional phase produced
several kilometers thick piles of Priabonian (Late Eocene) to Oligocene clastic and
volcaniclastic deposits. Evidence of earlier extensions further east in the eastern
Rhodopes is not entirely certain (Dimov et al. 2000). The second period started in
Middle Miocene, after a short-lived compression event when the earlier sedimen-
tary strata deformed by west-vergent structures (Dumurdzanov et al. 2005; Nakov
et al. 2001), and also partly uplifted and eroded. Further to the west the Middle
Miocene sedimentary phase produced heterogeneous types of basins, with the
predominance of N-W-trending grabens. From the Late Miocene to the present day,
in eastern FYR of Macedonia and adjacent Bulgaria E-W stretching normal faults
and half-graben structures originated.
Geology of South-Eastern Europe 19
cvladica@rgf.bg.ac.rs
Cenozoic Magmatism
The immense subduction system of Eurasian continental active margin (e.g.
Richards et al. 2012) entered its waning stage by the end of the Cretaceous. In the
Upper Cretaceous occurred slab retreat and arc migration to the south and this, rst
changed fore-arc areas into arc regions (Kolb et al. 2013; Gallhofer et al. 2015;
Gülmez et al. 2015) and then the entire arc system terminated by collision. During
Cenozoic times this process continued to be the major mechanism of accommo-
dating most of the shortening of an accretionary wedge of stacked nappes. These
nappes represent the crustal portions decoupled from the underthrusting oceanic or
continental lithospheric slab (Faccenna et al. 2003; Ricou et al. 1998; Schmid and
Kissling 2000). The rolling-back of this slab, sometimes combined with its
break-off and/or tear, produced rapid extension coupled with exhumation of the
lower crustal material and high heat ow, which, in several areas ultimately gave
rise to intrusive and extrusive magmatism (Bird 1979).
This magmatism is derived from both the mantle and the crust, and the rocks
produced are geochemically extremely heterogeneous. In general, there is a roughly
expressed age shift towards the west and south in Serbia and Bulgaria and Greece
(and further in Western Anatolia), respectively. However, this shift is at many
places obliterated because of magmatic events that were apparently controlled by
regional- to local tectonic pulses. Additionally, there are substantial differences
between this part of the AlpineHimalayan orogenic magmatism and the classical
active-margin or island-arc plate-tectonic models. It is so because in the former case
the lithospheric slab(s) involved in subduction and roll-back processes was com-
prised of lithospheric mantle usually accompanied by lower crustal material gen-
erated by decoupling from the rest of the overlying crustal segments. Such
subducting lithospheric slabis not simply a wet oceanic lithospherethat
dehydrates and releases water necessary for melting of the overlying subarc
asthenospheric mantle wedge. By contrast, in case of a delaminated slab melting is
triggered when the asthenospheric mantle directly invades into the subcontinental
lithosphere previously enriched in hydrous minerals or even into lower continental
crust. Such complex geodynamic settings provided conditions for activation of
different mantle and crustal sources and generation of wide spectra of mac and
intermediate to acid post-collisional magmas in the SEE region.
The above tectonomagmatic conditions resulted in formation of a large and
diffuse zone of Eocene to Oligocene, subordinately Oligocene-Miocene igneous
rocks. It stretches from the Periadriatic Province of the Alps up to the easternmost
parts of the MacedonianRhodopeNorth Aegean Belt (Marchev et al. 2013). The
belt continues further to East in the Thrace and Pontides volcanism in Turkey, and
has its continuation in northwest Anatolia. The rocks are compositionally very
heterogeneous, but there is apparent predominance of granitoid intrusives and
associated acid to intermediate volcanic rocks.
The granitoid plutons were emplaced at mid-crustal levels, and have been
exhumed by extension tectonics. They mostly occur along the SerboMacedonian
Massif and the CircumRhodope Belt (e.g. Kopaonik Mts., Surdulica, Sithonia,
20 V. Cvetkovic et al.
cvladica@rgf.bg.ac.rs
Ouranopolis, Ierissos, etc.), within the Rhodope unit (e.g. Vrondou, Pirin, etc.) and
smaller masses in the Kraishte and Sredna Gora tectonic units. They are dominantly
I-type metaluminous, calc-alkaline to high-K calc-alkaline granites, granodiorites
and tonalities, locally adakitic in character. Minor S-type intrusions, mostly
Miocene in age, are found in Cyclades and Serbia. The origin of the I-type gran-
itoids involves mixing (±fractional crystallization) between a mac magma, derived
by melting of a subduction-enriched depleted lithospheric mantle, and voluminous
crustal felsic magma generated by melting of lower- to mid-crustal amphibolites
(Perugini et al. 2003; Christodes et al. 2007, and references therein). The transition
from non-adakitic to adakitic compositions is explained by amphibole fractionation
of primary mantle-derived melts (Marchev et al. 2013). The origin of S-type
magmas is modelled by melting of variable mid-to shallow crustal sources (Altherr
and Siebel 2002; Cvetkovićet al. 2007).
It is widely accepted that the high-heat ow and melting associated to the
formation of the Eocene-Miocene I-type intrusives did not result solely from
thermal relaxation after tectonic thickening. By contrast, the melting of deep to
middle crustal sources was most likely triggered by advective heating from
mantle-derived melts. This means that mantle melting processes were essential for
the petrogenesis of the origin of the I-type post-collisional granitoids, either by
direct producing parental magmas, or by providing an advective heat source for
melting of overlying continental crust (e.g. PePiper and Piper 2002). There is a
line of evidence for the presence of roughly contemporaneous mac magmas in
most post-collisional granitoid complexes in the SEE region, with omnipresence of
mac enclaves varying in composition from diorite to lamprophyre (Knežević
Đorđevićet al. 1994; Prelevićet al. 2004).
From the Oligocene to recent times occurred widespread volcanism in the SEE
region. This volcanism was associated to the formation of numerous volcanic
landforms, including stratovolcanoes, collapsing calderas, lava ows and various
volcaniclastic facies and subvolcanic intrusions. The volcanoes occur within the
same NW-SE directed belt as do the above described intrusives and host some very
large volcanic areas in Serbia (e.g. Rudnik, Kopaonik, Lece, etc.), FYR of
Macedonia (KratovoZletovo) and Bulgaria (e.g. Zvezdel, Madzharovo, etc.).
Although there is a general southward (westward) younging, there is no simple
age-geochemical pattern among volcanic rocks. However, the ignimbrite are-up is
characteristic for the inception of extensional tectonic processes, which occurred in
the late Oligocene-early Miocene. This was followed by the formation of a variety of
subalkaline, potassic to ultrapotassic magmas, which indicates a progressive dehy-
dration of the subcontinental lithospheric mantle. The youngest magmas were less
voluminous, silica-undersaturated and sodic-alkaline in composition, suggesting a
transition from lithosphere to asthenosphere melting in the orogenic environment.
Generally, the volcanism shows orogenic geochemical features, characterized
mostly by (high-K) calk-alkaline acid/intermediate volcanic rocks that are found
intimately associated, in space and time with shoshonitic and ultrapotassic rocks.
Geology of South-Eastern Europe 21
cvladica@rgf.bg.ac.rs
One important consequence of the general geodynamic processes that triggered
widespread volcanism within SEE may be an overall thinning of the lithosphere. As
already mentioned above, during the interaction between the asthenosphere and
lithosphere driven by rolling back of the delaminating lithosphere, previously
metasomatized lithospheric domains hosting geochemically enriched material (with
or without lower crustal segments) will be molten and removed due to the heat from
the upwelling asthenosphere. In other words, we may expect thinning of consid-
erable part of the lithospheric mantle, as being proposed for Western Anatolia (e.g.
Kind et al. 2015) and the Pannonian basin (Horváth 1993; Falus et al. 2008), which
resulted in increased heat ow. Available data for the thickness of the modern
lithosphere in the central part of the SE Europe (Serbia, FYROM) based on the
crustal temperature distribution, implies an approximate lithospheric thickness to be
largest under the External Dinarides, where it is up to 260 km, whereas the
large-extent thinning has been proposed for the Pannonian Basin and the Serbian
Macedonian Massif, with only 4050 km (Milivojević1993).
Acknowledgments This study was supported by the Serbian Ministry of Education Science and
Technological Development (project no. 176016) and the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
(F17 and F9). The authors thank Ana Mladenovićand Kristina Šarićfor reading one of the earlier
versions of the manuscript.
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Metamorphosed and ductilely deformed conodonts with CAI (Colour Alteration Index) values 5-7 are described and illustrated from Kopaonik Mt, Vardar Zone, Serbia and from Bukk Mts, NE Hungary. They derive from Upper Triassic cherty metalimestones, overthrust by ophiolite complexes. The metamorphism and ductile deformation of the conodont elements evidently took place simultaneously with those of the limestone host rocks, which might have been related to subduction and obduction; however, younger tectonometamorphic events could also have played a role. Unfortunately, illite "crystallinity" indices from Kopaonik Mt are too random for thermometric assessment and geochronological data are missing so far. Nevertheless, by comparison with published data about limestone textural alteration and with previously published metamorphic petrological data from NE Hungary, at least a Szendro-type (min. 400 degrees C, but less then 500 degrees C, temperature and 300 MPa pressure) can be supposed for the regional metamorphism of conodont-bearing cherty limestone series of Kopaonik Mt.
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