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Abstract

In this brief review, the authors discuss the origin and evolutionary pattern of the Mediterranean Sea and its environs. The concept of seafloor spreading, as woven into the earlier proposal of continental drift, provides a scientific basis for the theory of plate tectonics. This theory explains the physiography and geological characteristics of the Mediterranean Basin, which is viewed as a “hollow” caught between the colliding African Plate to the south, the Eurasian Plate to the north, and the Arabian Subplate to the east. Within the basin and around it, interactions of numerous microplates control the shape of the landmasses and their destinies.

The perspective from space provides an effective tool with which we can study not only the landmasses that surround the Mediterranean but also its water currents and their sediment dispersal patterns. Use of space data will help in the continuing research to further unravel the plate movements of the past and help us formulate models of future changes. Such predictions are vital to economic development because, although the Mediterranean region has already provided much oil and gas for human needs, the area’s petroleum potential remains vast. Many features such as river-delta deposits, continental-shelf regions, subtle traps (stratigraphic, unconformity, and paleogeomorphic), and buried salt domes have not been adequately explored. We believe that the application of the modern concepts of geology and geophysics will result in the location of additional oil and gas resources in the Mediterranean region.

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