29 Feb 2024
 | 29 Feb 2024

Strike-slip faulting in extending upper plates: insight from the Aegean

Agathe Faucher, Frédéric Gueydan, and Jeroen van Hunen

Abstract. During gravitational collapse of orogenic systems or in hot extending back-arc systems, normal faulting is often associated with strike slip faulting whose origin remains enigmatic. The formation of major strike slip fault zones during subduction upper plate extension driven by slab-roll back can be related to slab tearing at depth. In the Aegean, where back-arc extension driven by southwest-ward migration of the Hellenic trench (slab rollback) has occurred since at least 30 Ma, the co-existence of normal faulting and a multiple strike-slip fault zones is observed since the onset of the westward extrusion of Anatolia, but before the onset of slab tearing that occurs in the Pliocene. Here we show how strike slip faults and normal faults can coexist in a hot deforming continental lithosphere. Our 3D numerical models with two deformation stages (initial pure extension followed by combined shortening and extension) can explain the Aegean tectonics. Several rifts form during the purely extensional stage that, during the second deformation stage, are either fully reactivated as strike-slip faults, or remain active but rimmed by dextral and sinistral strike-slip faults. This suggests that the extension driven by slab rollback and shortening driven by westward extrusion of Anatolia interact in space and time in the Aegean domain to create a complex tectonic pattern with coeval active normal faulting (e.g. Corinth and Evvia rifts) and dextral strike-slip faulting (e.g. the North Anatolian and Myrthes-Ikaria faults). These results show that strike slip faults in extending domain can be a sign of shortening at high angle to the extension direction.

Agathe Faucher, Frédéric Gueydan, and Jeroen van Hunen

Status: final response (author comments only)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-569', Haralambos Kranis, 29 Mar 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-569', John Naliboff, 10 Apr 2024
Agathe Faucher, Frédéric Gueydan, and Jeroen van Hunen
Agathe Faucher, Frédéric Gueydan, and Jeroen van Hunen


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Short summary
The formation of major strike-slip faults remains enigmatic in the framework of plate tectonics. Using 3D finite element models, we show that the co-existence of extension and shortening (at a high angle with the extension direction) and a weak lithosphere (e.g high geotherm) can trigger normal faulting and strike-slip faulting. Our results are compared to the Aegean example where strike slip faults (e.g. North Anatolian fault) and normal faults (e.g. Corinth rift) work together.