Articles | Volume 6, issue 1
Research article
25 Feb 2015
Research article |  | 25 Feb 2015

Polyphase evolution of Pelagonia (northern Greece) revealed by geological and fission-track data

F. L. Schenker, M. G. Fellin, and J.-P. Burg

Abstract. The Pelagonian zone, situated between the External Hellenides/Cyclades to the west and the Axios/Vardar/Almopias zone (AVAZ) and the Rhodope to the east, was involved in late Early Cretaceous and in Late Cretaceous–Eocene orogenic events whose duration and extent are still controversial. This paper constrains their late thermal imprints. New and previously published zircon (ZFT) and apatite (AFT) fission-track ages show cooling below 240 °C of the metamorphic western AVAZ imbricates between 102 and 93–90 Ma, of northern Pelagonia between 86 and 68 Ma, of the eastern AVAZ at 80 Ma and of the western Rhodope at 72 Ma. At the regional scale, this heterogeneous cooling is coeval with subsidence of Late Cretaceous marine basin(s) that unconformably covered the Early Cretaceous (130–110 Ma) thrust system from 100 Ma. Thrusting resumed at 70 Ma in the AVAZ and migrated across Pelagonia to reach the External Hellenides at 40–38 Ma. Renewed thrusting in Pelagonia is attested at 68 Ma by abrupt and rapid cooling below 240 °C and erosion of the gneissic rocks. ZFT and AFT in western and eastern Pelagonia, respectively, testify at ~40 Ma to the latest thermal imprint related to thrusting. Central-eastern Pelagonia cooled rapidly and uniformly from 240 to 80 °C between 24 and 16 Ma in the footwall of a major extensional fault. Extension started even earlier, at ~33 Ma in the western AVAZ. Post-7 Ma rapid cooling is inferred from inverse modeling of AFT lengths. It occurred while E–W normal faults were cutting Pliocene-to-recent sediment.

Short summary
The eastern Mediterranean is a long-lived seismically active region where the interaction of compressive and extensive tectonics is responsible for complex crustal deformation. The Pelagonian zone in the Hellenides has witnessed such deformational processes since the Mesozoic. This study combines fission-track analysis (recording temperatures <240°C), structural and stratigraphic data that were essential to constrain the polyphase evolution of the Hellenic orogen over 100 Ma.