The interaction between Aegean back-arc extension and Anatolia escape since Late Miocene

Tuesday, 15 December 2015: 14:25
306 (Moscone South)
Mélody Maéva Philippon, UMR 5243 Geosciences Montpellier, Antilles University, Pointe à Pitre, France, Jean-Pierre Brun, Géosciences Rennes, L, Rennes Cedex, France, Frédéric Gueydan, Géosciences Montpellier, Montpellier Cedex 05, France and Dimitrios Sokoutis, Utrecht University, Utrecht, 3584, Netherlands
The Aegean domain is a key area for understanding the processes of back-arc extension. Observed deformation pattern and present day kinematics result from the interaction between the southward retreat of the Hellenic trench and the westward escape of Anatolia. Using laboratory experiments designed to study lithosphere-scale deformation, we show that the overall pattern of Aegean extension requires not only the combination of trench retreat and Anatolia escape since 15 Ma but also the presence of an inherited lithosphere-scale mechanical discontinuity: the Vardar Suture Zone (VSZ). The reactivation in dextral shear of the eastern branch of the VSZ accommodates both the trench retreat (NS stretching) and the westward escape of Anatolia (EW shortening) in the Cyclades area since 15 Ma. Additionally, our model shows that the North Anatolian Fault (NAF) is a late structure in the evolution of the Aegean, initiated 10 Ma after the onset of Anatolia escape. The model displays displacement sub-domains, which result from strain partitioning instead of being “rigid microplates”, directly comparable to the present-day displacement field (GPS) of the Aegean and western Anatolia. Our modelling provides a simple way to look at the dynamics of Aegean extension in two main stages. From middle Eocene to middle Miocene, extension was only driven by the southward retreat of the Hellenic trench at a rate lower than 1 cm.y-1. Since middle Miocene, the combination of slab rollback with Anatolia westward escape, resulted in a southwest direction of trench retreat, with an accelerating rate of up to 3 cm.y-1.