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Abstract

The tectonic history of the central part of the Levant domain (Lebanon) is re-evaluated. Examination of the tectonic structures and mechanical analysis of the meso-scale brittle deformation indicate that Lebanon has experienced four major tectonic events since Late Mesozoic time. The first was an Early Cretaceous extensional phase orientated north–south to NNE–SSW. It produced WSW–ENE to WNW–ESE normal faults with offsets up to several hundreds of meters and led to the development of an approximately WNW–ESE-trending basin. A second extension, with similar driving stresses, occurred during Eocene time and persisted, perhaps until Oligocene times. The Early Neogene period marked a dramatic change in the structural evolution of Lebanon after which strike–slip and reverse faulting and folding dominated. During Early Miocene times, an east–west compression produced moderate folding and faulting. A second, but much more severe, folding event occurred during Late Miocene time owing to a NNW–SSE compression. This new tectonic history allows the discussion of several aspects of the Eastern Mediterranean basin development and the later deformation of its continental margin and surroundings, in particular: (1) the driving mechanisms of the Levant basin opening; (2) the inversion of its adjacent margin; and (3) the age, origin, and evolution of the restraining bend of the Dead Sea Transform in Lebanon.

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