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Abstract

A review of seismicity, focal mechanisms, and neotectonic data for the Alpine-Mediterranean region shows that convergence occurs mainly along narrow, reasonably well-defined zones dominated by thrust and strike-slip deformation, while extension occurs over broad areas dominated by normal and strike-slip faulting. Three generalized tectonic settings can account for many aspects of thrust belts in the Mediterranean region, and thrust belts can be classed accordingly into three types. Type 1 belts are those that result directly from north-south con-vergence of Africa and Europe. Type 2 belts form during lateral escape of crustal material away from a type 1 thrust belt. Type 3 belts evolve in response to local processes at a preexisting subduction zone, usually of type 2. Type 3 belts are those that are associated with zones of extension and lithospheric thinning behind the thrust belt. In the progression from type 1 to type 3 settings, development may stop at any point. Thrust belts in each of these different settings are controlled by the overall convergence of Europe and Africa and by the arrangement of small continental fragments between the converging continents.

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