African-Anatolian collision has been accommodated through a variety of tectonic processes: subduction, “back-arc” extension, collision and strike-slip faulting. To the south of Cyprus, this collision occurs at the Cyprean Arc. The tectonic setting of Cyprus is controversial and several models exist, including; (1) subduction/incipient collision; with associated extension in the over-riding plate; (2) advanced collision; with apparent compression-related thrusting in SW Cyprus (i.e. “Paphos thrust’); and (3) transpression; with left-lateral strike-slip deformation between the Kyrenia Range in the north and the Eratosthenes Seamount in the south. To test these tectonic models we are currently investigating the structural and sedimentological evolution of southern Cyprus. The aim is to use evidence from sedimentary facies, combined with information concerning penetrative structures and also with information on syn-sedimentary structures to assess the historic- and neo- tectonic situations of Cyprus.
Our interpretation is that areas to the east of Cyprus (Syria, S Turkey) were in a collisional setting from Mid-Miocene time onwards (c.20Ma). However, Cyprus remained in an oceanic embayment (Levant Sea) and subduction continued during the Pliocene. Compressional processes would have been active at depth. However, at a higher structural level southward extension (trench roll-back) was taking place. In the late Pliocene (c.3Ma), the Eratosthenes Seamount collided with the Cyprus Trench, obstructed subduction and initiated rapid uplift of the Island. Tectonic escape was permitted to the SW, as oceanic crust remained in this direction. Geophysical evidence (focal earthquake mechanisms, seismic tomography) suggests that collision is nowadays occurring at depth beneath Cyprus. However, at a higher structural level in the SW the active margin still appears to be undergoing gravity spreading outwards from the developing collision zone