Block rotations and continental extension in the central Aegean Sea: palaeomagnetic and structural evidence from Tinos and Mykonos (Cyclades, Greece)

Dov Avigad*, Gidon Baer, Ariel Heimann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


The Aegean Sea, floored by an attenuated continetal crust, is a Mediterranean-type back-arc basin formed above the subducting African plate. We investigated post-12 Ma block rotation in relation to back-arc extension in the area of the western Cyclades (central Aegean Sea). On Tinos island, NW-trending dacitic dikes and a Miocene monzogranite penetrated an Alpine metamorphic series. K-Ar analyses of 6 dike samples yielded an average age of 11.5 ± 0.4 Ma. The palaeomagnetic analyses of the dikes and the monzogranite reveal 23° vertical-axis clockwise rotation. We assume that the dacitic dikes intruded vertical (as they are today) and that no tilt correctioan is required. This is supported by the fact that no inclination anomaly is revealed when the palaeomagnetic data is compared with a tilt-corrected pole position from Kimi (Evia). The absence of tilting implies that post-12 Ma crustal thinning in the area of Tinos island was minor. On Mykonos, a low-angle normal fault dipping 30° to the NE juxtaposes a series of Oligo-Miocene molasse sediments above a 10-12-Ma granite. Published palaeomagnetic data revealed a considerable amount of inclination flattening and 22° clockwise rotation of the footwall granite. We show that tilting predated vertical-axis rotation, and that the (now) low-angle normal fault originated steeper, dipping ca. 54°. Planar-rotational fault geometry indicates extension of ca. 60%. In spite of the significant variations in the magnitude of post-12 Ma upper crustal extension across the Tinos-Mykonos transect, crustal thickness below the entire area changes only slightly. This indicates that upper-crustal levels were decoupled from the lower crust. The widespread Middle Miocene granitic magmatism in the Cyclades suggests that flow in the lower crust may have had a dominant role in maintaining the smooth Moho. Assuming that the western Cyclades constitute a set of NW-striking crustal blocks, it is estimated that vertical-axis rotations increased the N-S dimension of the area by ca. 31% (e.g. 25 km). The exact timing of this clockwise rotation is not well constrained, but it postdated the formation of low-angle normal faults and tilting, and may have taken place in the Late Miocene.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)23-40
Number of pages18
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 15 Apr 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF), Jerusalem, Israel. Discussions with Z. Garfunkel on aspects of block rotation were very helpful and are greatly acknowledged. We are indebted to H. Ron for allowing us to use the palaeomagneticl aboratory in Holon, and for technical advise. Reviews by C. Kissel, L. Jolivet and an anonymous reviewer helped to improve this manuscript.[ AC]


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