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Regional Paleogeography and Tectonics
The Mode and Nature of Continental Rifting Along the Northwestern Periphery of Gondwanaland During the Break-Up of Pangea
Triassic to Lower Cretaceous rift assemblages and passive margin sequences in the eastern Mediterranean region evolved as a result of continental rifting processes along the northern edge of Gondwanaland. Stratigraphic and palaeontological evidence from volcanic and sedimentary rocks of the rift assemblages indicate episodic rift magma-tism in pulses in Mid- to Late Triassic, Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous times. Both the rift basins and the surrounding continental margins underwent substantial subsidence and associated deep marine sedimentation in the Early to Late Cretaceous, corresponding to the onset of seafloor spreading and ocean crust generation in the southern Neotethys. The non-volcanic character of the rift margins and thinner than normal pseudostratigraphy of the ophiolites are interpreted to have resulted from slow extension rates and prolonged rifting processes in the region. A significant time gap between the initial continental break-up (Triassic) and the first episode of seafloor spreading (Late Cretaceous) is supported by age relations between the rift assemblages and the ophiolites. Continental rifting and crustal failure might have occurred initially along low angle fault zones generating asymmetric conjugate passive margin pairs. Continental rifting along the northern periphery of Gondwanaland may be attributed to subduction zone tectonics in the bounding Paleotethys.
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