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The southern limit of the Menderes metamorphic core complex has recently been proposed to be formed by an Oligocene–early Miocene top-to-the-north breakaway detachment fault, the Datça–Kahle fault running across the Lycian nappes in southwestern Turkey. Proving a breakaway detachment fault as opposed to a ‘simple’ local high-angle normal fault is generally hampered by absence of a metamorphic contrast between hanging wall and footwall. The island of Kos lies close to the inferred southern breakaway fault. It exposes Permo- Carboniferous anchimetamorphic rocks, intruded and contact-metamorphosed at upper crustal levels by a 12 Ma old monzonite during or close to peak-burial conditions. Here, we show that exhumation of these rocks occurred along a top-to-the-north brittle extensional detachment fault underneath upper Mesozoic and Palaeogene non-metamorphic carbonates after 12 Ma, and that any (undocumented) earlier extension did not lead to significant exhumation of the Permo-Carboniferous rocks. Kos should thus be placed within the Cyclades–Menderes extensional province since 12 Ma. The age of exhumation is younger than the proposed activity of the breakaway fault, the existence of which we cannot corroborate. We conclude that the brittle detachment of Kos cannot be straightforwardly correlated to any ductile-to-brittle detachments of the Menderes or eastern Cycladic metamorphic core complexes further to the north and may represent a relatively isolated structure.

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