How the continents deform remains a matter of debate. One view postulates that continental deforming zones are comprised of a limited numbers of rigid (elastic) microplates. If true, the surface motion can then be described by the relative rotation of blocks, and strain should be localized along the major faults separating the blocks. An alternative view is that the deformation at depth is distributed over wide areas, can be modelled by a viscous flow responding to boundary conditions applied on it and gravitational potential energy gradients related to variations in topography, and the surface strain simply reflects this deformation. Western Turkey is a region of crustal extension, part of the Nubia/Eurasia plate boundary. Its kinematics is often modelled by the relative motion of a small number of rigid blocks (Nyst & Thatcher, 2005, Reilinger et al., 2006). However, until now, the limited number of GPS velocity vectors available has prevented a detailed examination of which is the more appropriate description. We present a new geodetic velocity field including ~100 sites from the longitude the Central Anatolian plateau to the Aegean coast, derived from a combination of campaigns carried out between 1997 and 2006, and continuous GPS operating since 2003, which we use to test the different models. While the kinematics of the area can be correctly modelled by a block model, a good fit to the velocity field requires blocks with sizes smaller than 100 km and still fails to adequately predict the strain rate observed within blocks . Alternatively, we test an approach where the lithosphere is modelled as a thin viscous sheet, responding to the gravitational potentiel energy contrast between the high plateau of eastern Turkey to the east and the subduction along the Hellenic trench in the southwest. The simplistic model has only one free parameter (the force applied by the subducting oceanic lithosphere on the Aegean ), but provides a good agreement with the observed GPS velocities and correctly predict the increase of extension rate from central Anatolia towards the Aegean sea. This results therefore favours a model where the surface deformation is driven by the flow of the whole lithosphere responding to the forces acting on it.
AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 2007
- 1209 Tectonic deformation (6924);
- 1236 Rheology of the lithosphere and mantle (7218;
- 8002 Continental neotectonics (8107);
- 8122 Dynamics: gravity and tectonics