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A Miocene tectonic inversion in the Ionian Sea (central Mediterranean): Evidence from multichannel seismic data

Abstract : It is widely accepted that the Central and Eastern Mediterranean are remnants of the Neo-Tethys. However, the orientation and timing of spreading of this domain remain controversial. Here, we present time migrated and pre-stack depth migrated NW-SE oriented Archimede (1997) lines together with the PrisMed01 (1993) profile to constrain the evolution of the Ionian basin. Our interpretation allows us to identify a large-scale set of SW-NE striking reverse faults beneath the Ionian Abyssal Plain. These primarily NW vergent faults have a characteristic spacing of 10 to 20 km and a dip ranging from 60 to 65°. Following very recent paleogeographic reconstructions, we propose that the set of N°55 features initially formed as normal faults during NW-SE trending seafloor spreading of the Ionian basin after its late Triassic-early Jurassic rifting. Based on geometric comparisons with the intraplate deformation observed beneath the Central Indian Ocean, we show that the inherited oceanic normal faults were reactivated under compression as reverse faults. Well-developed Tortonian syntectonic basins developed NW of the major faults and the base of the Messinian evaporites (Mobile Unit) is slightly folded by the activity of the faults. We show that 3-4 km of total shortening occurs over a 80 km wide area beneath the Ionian Abyssal Plain, resulting in a bulk shortening of 3.5-5%. We propose a link between the Tortonian-early Messinian inversion of the fault pattern and a plate tectonic reorganization prior to the main phase of back-arc opening of the Tyrrhenian domain.
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Flora Gallais, Marc-André Gutscher, David Graindorge, Nicolas Chamot-Rooke, D. Klaeschen. A Miocene tectonic inversion in the Ionian Sea (central Mediterranean): Evidence from multichannel seismic data. Journal of Geophysical Research, American Geophysical Union, 2011, 116, pp.B12108. ⟨10.1029/2011JB008505⟩. ⟨insu-00656030⟩

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