These breaks occur in areas where tectonic structures with different trends interfere e. In correspondence of the observed breaks we find deforming belts i. An important result of our analysis is that GPS data, according to earthquake focal mechanisms, evidence an independent motion of the Pelagian-Sicilian domain that contributes to the complexity of the Central Mediterranean kinematic and tectonic setting. The NE—SW trending Rif-Alboran-Betics belt, where deformation appears distributed over a wider region and mainly characterized by strike-slip to extensional tectonic regimes, joins the compressive south Iberia segment of the plate boundary with the FTB of north Africa.
The tectonic and kinematic features observed in this region are difficult to explain in the context of simple plate convergence, suggesting that deep dynamic processes may be responsible for the observed complexity. In any event, data across the Gibraltar Arc suggest that any deformation associated to a possible E-ward dipping subduction is stopped or significantly slowed down, requiring other processes to explain surface observations e.
Moreover, our data indicate that residual shortening between 1. The poorly constrained and distributed transtensional deformation in northern Tunisia Fig. Nubia and Eurasia. This belt accommodates right-lateral and extensional deformation through a complex pattern of tectonic structures including the Tindari-Giardini and Messina Strait faults , and shows rapid movements of some GPS stations in NE-Sicily and Aeolian Islands region e. Hollenstein et al. Unfortunately, the kinematics of the Ionian basin is not known, and the few focal mechanisms available do not provide useful constraints.
The orientation of P -axes in the study region, roughly corresponding to the direction of plate convergence for large part of plate boundary zone Fig. It is only east of the central Aeolian Islands i. Along the Calabrian Arc and Apennines, in fact, the contribution of the subducting Ionian oceanic lithosphere, and the counterclockwise rotation of the Adriatic domain w.
Eurasia; e. Battaglia et al. A unique geodynamic interpretation of the observed surface kinematics and tectonics seems difficult. However, the presence along the plate boundary of zones of more complex composite tectonic regimes mainly strike-slip to tensional can be correlated with other geophysical and geological observations. These sectors recorded complex geodynamic processes during the evolution of the Western Mediterranean subduction system e. Carminati et al. These observations suggest that deep dynamics, combined with inherited structural crustal heterogeneities, may be responsible for the observed tectonics and kinematics.
The new picture obtained in this work can provide additional constraints for the development of geodynamic models that address the problem of studying the processes that are driving the current plate interactions and crustal tectonic complexities in the Mediterranean region. We are thankful to all individuals and institutions contributing in the GPS field surveys. Comments and reviews from Editor and two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the quality of the manuscript.
Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Sign In or Create an Account. Sign In. Advanced Search. Article Navigation. Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume Article Contents. Western Mediterranean Tectonics. Seismological Data and Analysis. Discussion And Conclusions. Oxford Academic. Google Scholar. Cite Citation. Permissions Icon Permissions. Summary The Western Mediterranean displays a complex pattern of crustal deformation distributed along tectonically active belts developed in the framework of slow oblique plate convergence.
Open in new tab Download slide. ITRF a new release of the international terrestrial reference frame for earth science applications. Search ADS. The Neogene structural evolution of the western margin of the Pelagian Platform, central Tunisia. Cenozoic volcanism and tectonics in the southern Tyrrhenian: space-time distribution and geodynamic significance. The Gela Nappe: evidence of accretionary melange in the Maghrebian foredeep of Sicily.
The Strait of Sicily Rift Zone: foreland deformation related to the evolution of a back-arc basin. The Southern Tyrrhenian subduction system: recent evolution and neotectonic implications. The Adriatic region: an independent microplate within the Africa-Eurasia collision zone.
Post-Cretaceous kinematics of the Atlas and Tell systems in central Algeria: early foreland folding and subduction-related deformation.
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Multibeam bathymetric survey and high resolution seismic investigations on the Barbados Ridge complex Eastern Caribbean : a key to the knowledge and interpretation of an accretionary wedge. The P-wave velocity structure of the mantle below the Iberian peninsula: evidence for subducted lithosphere below southern Spain. Google Preview. Regional moment tensor determination in the European-Mediterranean area - initial results. The role of slab detachment processes in the opening of the western-central Mediterranean basin: some geological and geophysical evidences.
Evidence for a post Geodynamic evolution of the lithosphere and upper mantle beneath the Alboran region of the western Mediterranean: constraints from travel time tomography. The origin and tectonic history of the Alboran basin: insights from leg results. De Voogd.
Della Vedova. Effect of recent revisions to the geomagnetic reversal time scale on estimates of current plate motions.
Active thrust faulting offshore Boumerdes, Algeria, and its relations to the Mw 6. Present-day motion of the Sierra Nevada block and some tectonic implications for the Basin and Range province, North American Cordillera. Estimating regional deformation from a combination of space and terrestrial geodetic data.
Magmatic evolution of the Alboran region: the role of subduction in forming the Western Mediterranean and causing the Messinian Salinity Crisis. Determination of earthquake source parameters from waveform data for studies of global and regional seismicity. Lateral slab deformation and the origin of the western Mediterranean arcs. Active tectonics of the western Mediterranean: geodetic evidence for rollback of a delaminated subcontinental lithospheric slab beneath the Rif Mountains, Morocco. Triangle diagrams: ternary graphs to display similarity and diversity of earthquake focal mechanisms.
Display and quantitative assessment of distributions of earthquake focal mechanisms.
Lithospheric structure in the Atlantic—Mediterranean transition zone southern Spain, northern Morocco : a simple approach from regional elevation and geoid data. Deriving numerical estimates from descriptive information: the computation of earthquake parameters. Role of the Atlas mountains northwest Africa within the African-Eurasian plate boundary zone.
Lithosphere tearing at STEP faults: response to edges of subduction zones. Source of the Catania earthquake and tsunami southern Italy : new evidence from tsunami modeling of a locked subduction fault plane. The relationship between plate motions and seismic moment tensors, and the rates of active deformation in the Mediterranean and Middle East. Seismic moment assessment of earthquakes in stable continental regions I. Instrumental seismicity. Geologic structure and neotectonics of the north African continental margin south of Sicily.
Seismic moment and energy of earthquakes and seismic flow of rocks, Izv. An integrated global model of present-day plate motions and plate boundary deformation. Active and recent deformation at the Southern Alps-Ligurian basin junction. Le Pichon. Plate kinematics and tectonics leading to the Alpine belt formation: a new analysis. Structural styles and regional tectonic setting of the Gela Nappe and frontal part of the Maghrebian thrust belt in Sicily.
Geodynamic models for the Azores triple junction; a contribution from tectonics. Extension in the Tyrrhenian Sea and shortening in the Apennines as result of arc migration driven by sinking in the lithosphere. Global Positioning System constraints on plate kinematics and dynamics in the eastern Mediterranean and Caucasus. Goringe-Alboran-Tell tectonic zone; a transpression system along the Africa-Eurasia plate boundary. Geodetic measurements of crustal deformation in the Western Mediterranean and Europe.
Tyrrhenian basin and Apenninic arcs. Kinematic relations since late Tortonian times. P -wave tomography of the mantle under the Alpine-Mediterranean area. Seismic deformation in the Mediterranean area estimated by moment tensor summation. European-Mediterranean regional Centroid Moment Tensor Catalog: solutions for the years and Convergence vs. Retreat in Southern Tyrrhenian Sea: insights from kinematics. Modern tectonic stress field in the mediterranean region: evidence For variation in stress directions at different scale. Mesozoic and cenozoic rocks from the Malta Escarpment central Mediterranean.
Geophysical evidence for lithospheric delamination beneath the Alboran Sea and Rif-Betic mountains. Seismicity and P-wave velocity image of the southern Tyrrhenian subduction zone. Combination of permanent and non-permanent GPS networks for the evaluation of the strani-rate field in the central Mediterranean area. Crustal velocity and strain-rate fields in Italy and surrounding regions: new results from the analysis of permanent and non-permanent GPS networks. Structural evolution of Djebel Debadib anticline: a clue to regional tectonic style of the Tunisian Atlas.
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Permo-Mesozoic evolution of the western Tethyan realm: the Neotethys-East Mediterranean basin connection. Lithospheric structure beneath the alboran basin: results from 3D gravity modeling and tectonic relevance. The investigation of potential earthquake sources in peninsular Italy: a review. Van Der Meer. A database of revised fault plane solutions for Italy and surrounding regions. Basin inversion along the North African Margin.
The Saharan Atlas Algeria. Present-day kinematics of the plate boundary zone between Africa and Europe, from the Azores to the Aegean.
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Seismic moment summation for historical earthquakes in Italy: tectonic implications. La chaine tello-rifaine Algerie, Maroc, Tunisia : structure, stratigraphie et evolution du Trias au Miocene. Neogene through Quaternary tectonic reactivation of SW Iberian passive margin. Issue Section:. Download all figures. View Metrics. The considerable height of the Colorado Plateau, for instance, appears to be the result of the warming of the underlying mantle during roughly the past 10 million years.
Such mantle heating also seems to have been responsible, at least in part, for the present elevation of much of the North American Cordillera. The one area where rapid subduction of oceanic lithosphere more than 50 millimetres per year has continued is southern Alaska , where the Pacific Plate is being underthrust beneath the coast. The St. Elias Mountains , the tallest in southeastern Alaska and the Yukon, appear to be the direct consequences of this convergence and rapid underthrusting. Deformation of the southern Alaskan crust extends northward several hundred kilometres to the Alaska Range , where the highest mountain in North America, Denali Mount McKinley , is found.
North—south crustal shortening in southern Alaska occurs both by thrust faulting and by strike-slip faulting on nearly vertical, northwesterly trending planes. Denali lies adjacent to one such major strike-slip fault, the Denali Fault. The rocks that make up Denali have been displaced several tens of kilometres northwestward relative to the rocks north of the Denali Fault and a few kilometres upward.
This small vertical component, compared with the large horizontal component, has created the high peak. A chain of volcanoes extends from mainland Alaska down the Alaska Peninsula along the Aleutian Islands and then southwestward down the peninsula of Kamchatka in northeastern Siberia and along the Kuril Islands to Japan. The Pacific Plate is being subducted beneath this long volcanic chain. Most of the relief is the result of volcanism. The Aleutians and Kurils are volcanic islands, and for the most part the volcanoes on the continental areas of the Alaska Peninsula, Kamchatka, and Japan are built up from sea level rather than on high ranges, as is the case with the Andes.
For instance, Mount Fuji , a symmetrically shaped volcanic cone, rises from a low elevation to more than 4, metres. In the central part of the Japanese island of Honshu , the Circum-Pacific System diverges into two chains. One continues southward along the Izu, Bonin, and Mariana islands. These volcanic islands form island arcs where the Pacific Plate is subducted beneath the floor of the Philippine Sea to the west. The Ryukyu island arc ends abruptly at the island of Taiwan, which is not part of the Ryukyu arc.
Taiwan is a small mountainous island consisting of folded and thrusted sedimentary rocks on the southeastern margin of the Asian continent. The sedimentary rocks of Taiwan were deposited on that margin under tranquil conditions, much as sedimentary rocks have been deposited on the margins of the Atlantic Ocean. Then, in the last few million years a segment of the Asian continental margin encountered a subduction zone that dipped east-southeast. As that short segment of the margin began to be underthrust, the sedimentary rocks were scraped off its leading edge and thrust back on top of it. Thus, not only the mountains of Taiwan but also virtually the entire island consists of folded and thrust sedimentary rocks that have rapidly piled up on what had been a submerged continental shelf.
A couple of volcanic islands south of Taiwan mark the southward continuation of this subduction zone to Luzon , the large northern island of the Philippines. The mountainous landscape of the Philippine Islands is a consequence both of subduction of the South China Sea floor eastward beneath Luzon and of subduction of the Philippine Sea floor westward beneath the southern Philippine islands. Volcanism and, in Luzon, crustal shortening have built the major mountains. A major system of island arcs extends across the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java and eastward almost to the island of New Guinea and then again eastward along the New Britain, Solomon , and New Hebrides Vanuatu chains.
Virtually all of the high mountains of the Sunda , or Indonesian, arc are volcanoes, some of which are associated with particularly noteworthy eruptions. In the massive eruption of the volcano on the island of Krakatoa , in the straits between Java and Sumatra, was followed by a collapse of its caldera , which caused a huge sea wave that was recorded all around the world. The eruption in of the Tambora Volcano on Sumbawa was perhaps the greatest in recorded history.
Similarly, the volcanic arcs of New Britain , the Solomon and New Hebrides islands, are associated with the northward subduction of the floor of the Solomon Sea and that of the Coral Sea beneath these island arcs. A high range of mountains forms the backbone of the island of New Guinea between the Sunda and New Britain arcs.
Whereas seafloor continues to be subducted beneath these arcs, the northern margin of the Australian continent has encountered the segment of the subduction zone between these arcs. The mountains of New Guinea consist of folded and faulted volcanic and sedimentary rocks. The volcanic rocks include both ancient seafloor and old island arcs that were thrust up and onto the northern margin of Australia. The sedimentary rock includes a full complement of Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic rock deposited in the tranquil conditions of an ancient continental shelf.
Thrust faulting has elevated metamorphic rock to the crest of the high range where glaciers persist even at the Equator , while the sedimentary rock is being deformed in a fold and thrust belt along the southern margin of the range. East of the New Hebrides Islands, the Circum-Pacific System is defined by the Tonga and Kermadec islands , volcanic islands associated with the westward subduction of the Pacific Plate.
The subduction zone continues southward to the North Island of New Zealand , where volcanism is the principal tectonic process that has created mountains and relief. The mountains of the South Island of New Zealand, however, have been produced by different tectonic processes. Whereas the convergence between the Pacific Plate and the seafloor beneath the Tasman Sea manifests itself as subduction of the Pacific Plate at the Tonga-Kermadec-North Island zone, it results in crustal shortening across the South Island.
The Southern Alps of New Zealand have resulted from this crustal shortening, which occurs by folding, by thrust faulting, and by vertical components of slip on predominantly strike-slip faults that trend southwest across the northern and western parts of the island. Rapid uplift, possibly as much as 10 millimetres per year, keeps pace with the rapid erosion of the easily eroded schists of the Southern Alps.
In short, the Circum-Pacific System consists of a variety of mountain types and ranges where different tectonic processes occurring at different geologic times in the past have shaped the landscape. The grouping of these different belts into this single system is thus only a crude simplification. The interconnected system of mountain ranges and intermontane plateaus that lies between the stable areas of Africa, Arabia , and India on the south and Europe and Asia on the north owes its existence to the collisions of different continental fragments during the past million years.
Some million years ago, India and much of what is now Iran and Afghanistan lay many thousands of kilometres south of their present positions. Much of the rock that now forms the mountain system, which includes the Alps and the Himalayas was deposited on the margins of the Tethys Ocean. As in the case for the Circum-Pacific System, the grouping of these different mountain ranges into a single system is an oversimplification. The various ranges and plateaus of the Alpine-Himalayan System formed at different times, at different rates, and between different lithospheric plates, and consist of different types of rocks.
The easternmost segment of the system begins at the western end of the Sunda island arc and continues into the arcuate chain of mountains that constitute the Himalayas , which contain the highest peaks on Earth. This chain was formed as the Indian subcontinent, a passenger on the same plate that currently underthrusts the Sunda arc, collided with the southern margin of Asia and subsequently penetrated some 2, kilometres into the rest of Asia.
As the leading edge of India, on which Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks had been deposited, plunged beneath southern Tibet, these rocks were scraped off the subcontinent and thrust back onto its more stable parts. Physiographically, this chain can be subdivided into three parallel belts: the Lesser Himalayas, the Great Himalayas , and the Tethys Himalayas. Some authorities prefer a subdivision into four belts, the additional one designated the Outer, or Sub-Himalayas. The Great Himalayas are defined by an arcuate chain of the highest peaks.
To the south lie the Lesser Himalayas , a belt about kilometres wide with an average elevation of 1, to 2, metres that is dissected by the rivers emanating from the Great Himalayas and north of it.
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To the north, the Tethys Himalayas form the southern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The rocks of the Lesser Himalayas consist primarily of mildly metamorphosed sedimentary rock largely of Precambrian age. At present, the remainder of the Indian subcontinent underthrusts the Lesser Himalayas on a very gently dipping thrust fault, so that the rocks forming this belt are sliding over the ancient top surface of India. As a result, the uplift of the Lesser Himalayas seems to be relatively slow.
The rate of uplift in the Himalayas seems to be rapid in two parallel zones: 1 at the very front of the range where the ancient metamorphic and sedimentary rocks of the Lesser Himalayas have been thrust up and onto the young sediments, and 2 beneath the Great Himalayas. The thrust fault that carries the Himalayas onto the intact part of India is a ramp overthrust, with the steep part of the ramp dipping north beneath the Great Himalayas.
The very tops of many of the peaks, however, consist of Paleozoic sedimentary rocks, which dip northward. North of the Great Himalayas, in the Tethys Himalayas, these Paleozoic rocks and the Mesozoic sedimentary rocks deposited on them along the southern edge of the Tethys Ocean have been folded and faulted into east—west ridges. Geologically, the northern margin of the Himalayas follows the Indus River in the west and the Brahmaputra River also called Tsang-po or Yarlung Zangbo Jiang in the east. The last remnants of the Tethys Ocean floor can be found in what some refer to as the Indus-Tsang-po Suture Zone, where a jumble of volcanic and sedimentary rocks have been folded and thrust over one another in a narrow zone parallel to these rivers.
North of this suture, a belt of granites forms the backbone of the Trans-Himalayan range. These granites were intruded into the crust of the southern margin of Asia between million and 50 million years ago, when the Tethys Ocean floor was being subducted beneath southern Asia and before India collided with it. Since India collided with Eurasia, it has penetrated 2, kilometres or more into the ancient Eurasian continent.
The northern edge of India may have been subducted a few hundred kilometres beneath southern Tibet, but most of its penetration has been absorbed by crustal shortening north of the collision zone. The crust of the Tibetan Plateau appears to have been severely shortened; the thickness of its crust has approximately doubled. The Tien Shan was the site of Late Paleozoic mountain building, but by the time India collided with Eurasia erosion had planed down the ancient Tien Shan to a featureless terrain buried in its own sediment.
The penetration of India into Eurasia not only has caused crustal thickening in front of itself, but it also is squeezing parts of Asia eastward out of its northward path. One manifestation of this extrusion of material out of its path is the crustal shortening on the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, where crustal thickening is actively occurring.
The eastward displacement of crustal blocks along major strike-slip faults also seems to have caused rift systems to open in a northwest—southeast direction. Moreover, crustal thickening in the Tibetan Plateau has ceased, and now east—west extension of the plateau contributes to the eastward extrusion. Each of these different types of plate boundaries produces unique geographical features on the surface, including fault lines, trenches, volcanoes, mountains, ridges and rift valleys.
A transform boundary connects two diverging boundaries, creating a fault line. This line represents an area of shear, where two plates are moving horizontally against one another. Trenches are geological features formed by convergent boundaries. When two tectonic plates converge, the heavier plate is forced downward, creating a subduction zone. This process results in the formation of a trench.
The Marianas Trench is an example of a trench formed by the convergence of two oceanic plates. The deepest part of this trench, called the Challenger Deep, is over 36, feet deep, deeper than Mount Everest is tall. Another geological feature that results from a subduction zone is volcanoes.