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Mediterranean Region

Plate Kinematics and Reconstructions

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The Mediterranean region traditionally represents a difficult but intriguing study area for plate tectonic modeling. These pages illustrate, through reconstruction maps, animations and few comments, the main results of a new quantitative model of the tectonic evolution of the Tethyan realm since Early Jurassic. Details of this model can be found in the following paper [in review]:

Schettino, A., and C. R. Scotese, Global kinematic constraints to the tectonic history of the Mediterranean region and surrounding areas during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, in: Rosenbaum, G. and Lister, G. S., Reconstruction of the evolution of the Alpine-Himalayan orogeny, Journal of the Virtual Explorer, 2002.

A QuickTime(TM) animation illustrating the modeled pattern of sea-floor spreading and the formation of new plate boundaries during the Jurassic and the Cretaceous can be found here (Warning: 4432 KB).

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Reconstruction at 200.0 Ma (Lower Sinemurian)

This is the assumed starting configuration of the continents around the Tethys at the beginning of the Jurassic.

Reconstruction at 172.0 Ma (Upper Bajocian)

- Onset of seafloor spreading in the Central Atlantic;
- Rifting in the Atlas region;
- Collapse of the Pindos Ridge;
- Subduction of Triassic Tethys under Sanandaj-Armenia

Reconstruction at 170.0 Ma (Upper Bajocian)

- Spreading in the Liguride Ocean;
- Spreading in the Alpine Tethys;
- Formation of a transform boundary between Iberia and Morocco

Reconstruction at 154.3 Ma (Chron M25 - Upper Oxfordian)

- Spreading in the Eastern Tethys and formation of the Vardar plate;
- Drifting of Northern Turkey towards Eurasia;
- Formation of the Inner Tauride Ocean

Reconstruction at 147.7 Ma (Chron M21 - Middle Tithonian)

- Iberia separates from North America;
- Strike-slip motion along the North Pyrenean Fault

Reconstruction at 139.6 Ma (Chron M16 - Upper Berriasian)

- Iberia remains attached to Northwest Africa;
- Extinction of the Liguride Ocean spreading center

Reconstruction at 131.9 Ma (Chron M10 - Lower Hauterivian)

- Opening of Valais oceanic trough by separation of the Sardinia-Corsica-Brianšonnais domains from the southern French margin

Reconstruction at 130.0 Ma (Chron M9 - Lower/Upper Hauterivian Boundary)

- Convergence in the Liguride Ocean;
- Transpression at the boundary between Iberia and Africa;
- Rifting in the North Atlantic

Reconstruction at 126.7 Ma (Chron M4 - Hauterivian/Barremian Boundary)

- Transtension at the boundary between Iberia and Eurasia

Reconstruction at 120.4 Ma (Chron M0 - Barremian/Aptian Boundary)

- Seafloor spreading in the North Atlantic region;
- Collapse of the Vardar Ridge;
- Rifting in the South Atlantic region

Reconstruction at 110.0 Ma (Lower Albian)

- Seafloor spreading in the South Atlantic region;
- Opening of the Biscay Bay;
- Onset of Alpine subduction;
- A new trench forms at the southern Eurasian margin (Rodophe-West Pontides);
- Right-lateral motion along the Central African Shear Zone

Reconstruction at 83.5 Ma (Chron C34 - Santonian/Campanian Boundary)

- Compression in the Valais Trough;
- Sakarya and Kirsehir collide with Eurasia (87 Ma);
- A new trench is established South of the Sakarya-Kirsehir block;
- Subduction of the Inner Tauride Ocean;
- Northwest Africa and Iberia rotate clockwise with respect to Northeast Africa;
- Small component of convergence in the Liguride Basin

Reconstruction at 74.3 Ma (Chron C33n - Upper Campanian)

- Motion of Sakarya and Kirsehir is a combination of right-lateral sliding along the trench and clockwise rotation;
- Onset of the Pyrenean orogeny;
- Upper Campanian rifting and possibly spreading in the Southern Mediterranean region

Reconstruction at 67.7 Ma (Chron C31n, Upper Maastrichtian)

- Closure of the oceanic connection between Tethys and the Indian Ocean;
- Onset of compressive tectonics between the Tauride Platrform and Arabia;
- Subduction in the Liguride Ocean;
- Right-lateral motion of Sakarya and Kirsehir with respect to Eurasia

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