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The impact of salt on the late Messinian to recent tectonostratigraphic evolution of the Cyprus subduction zoneNormal access

Authors: Sonke Reiche, Christian Hubscher and Axel Ehrhardt
Journal name: Basin Research
Issue: Vol 28, No 5, October 2016 pp. 569 - 597
DOI: 10.1111/bre.12122
Organisations: Wiley
Language: English
Info: Article, PDF ( 25.86Mb )

Messinian evaporites of locally more than 3-km thickness occupy the subduction zone between Cyprus and Eratosthenes Seamount. Based on a dense grid of seismic reflection profiles, we report on compressional salt tectonics and its impact on the Late Miocene to Quaternary structural evolution of the Cyprus subduction zone. Results show that evaporites have experienced significant post-Messinian shortening along the plate boundary. Shortening has initiated allochthonous salt advance between Cyprus and Eratosthenes Seamount, representing an excellent example of salt which efficiently escapes subduction and accretion. Further east, between Eratosthenes Seamount and the Hecataeus Rise, evaporites were compressionally inflated without having advanced across post-Messinian strata. Such differences in the magnitude of salt tectonic shortening may reflect a predominately north–south oriented post-Messinian convergence direction, raising the possibility of a later coupling between the motion of Cyprus and Anatolia than previously thought. Along the area bordered by Cyprus and Eratosthenes Seamount a prominent step in the seafloor represents the northern boundary of a controversially debated semi-circular depression. Coinciding with the southern edge of the salt sheet, this bathymetric feature is suggested to have formed as a consequence of compressional salt inflation and seamount-directed salt advance. Topographic lows on top of highly deformed evaporites are locally filled by up to 700 m of late Messinian sediments. The uppermost 200 m of these sediments were drilled in the course of ODP Leg 160 and interpreted to represent Lago Mare-type deposits (Robertson, Tectonophysics, 1998d, 298, 63–82). Lago Mare deposits are spatially restricted to the western part of the subduction zone, pinching out towards the east whereas presumably continuing into the Herodotus Basin further west. We suggest a sea level control on late Messinian Lago Mare sedimentation, facilitating sediment delivery into basinal areas whereas inhibiting Lago Mare deposition into the desiccated Levant Basin. Locally, early salt deformation is believed to have provided additional accommodation space for Lago Mare sedimentation, resulting in the presently observed minibasin-like geometry.

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