Three‐dimensional model of Hellenic Arc deformation and origin of the Cretan uplift

Journal of Geophysical Research Solid Earth
By:  and 



[1] The Hellenic Arc of Greece is the most seismically active part of Europe, but little is know about its mechanics. We modeled deformation along the arc using a finite element model. The model was intended to capture large‐scale 3‐D structure of Nubian plate subduction beneath the Aegean block and its deformational consequences. The shape of the interface was developed using mapped traces at the surface and earthquake hypocenters at depth. Model block motions were constrained by recent compilations of GPS velocity vectors. We simulated a 10 ka period of convergence between Nubia and the Aegean and calculated the strain field in the overriding plate as well as the spatial distribution and orientation of differential stress (∣σ1 − σ3∣). From these calculations we derived testable quantities such as the expected seismic moment rate on the interplate contact, uplift pattern, and distribution of strain modes. Our relatively simple model broadly reproduced observed uplift patterns, earthquake activity, and loci of extension and contraction. The model showed a localization of uplift near the island of Crete, where the fastest Aegean uplift rates are well documented. Comparison of calculated expected seismic moment and observed earthquake catalogs implies a nearly fully coupled interplate contact. On the basis of our modeling results, we suggest that south Aegean deformation is driven primarily by the fast moving (∼33 mm a−1) Aegean upper plate overriding a nearly stalled (∼5 mm a−1) Nubian lower plate. This tectonic setting thus more closely resembles a continental thrust than it does a typical oceanic subduction zone.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Three‐dimensional model of Hellenic Arc deformation and origin of the Cretan uplift
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research Solid Earth
DOI 10.1029/2008JB005599
Volume 114
Issue B6
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description B06404, 14 p.
Country Greece, Turkey
Other Geospatial Aegean Sea, Hellenic Arc
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