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The indentation of Arabia has influenced the post-Oligocene evolution of the eastern Mediterranean–European region, from Anatolia to the Carpathians and even the central Mediterranean area, since the late Miocene. The efficient transmission of compressional stress from the Arabia-Eurasia collision zone into such a broad area was facilitated by the Tethyan orogenic belt, developed during the Late Cretaceous–Paleogene closure of the northern Neotethyan Ocean, and in particular by its strong inner metamorphic core. The lateral displacement of this orogenic belt, due to the push of Arabia, was progressively accommodated by bowing and extrusion of those sectors that faced low-buoyancy lithospheric domains. This extrusion process first involved the outward expulsion of the Carpathian arc at the expense of the low-buoyancy Magura oceanic domain, and then the lateral escape of the Cycladic arc at the expense of the low-buoyancy Ionian-Levantine oceanic domain. The lateral migration of the Tethyan orogenic belt began to influence the deformation pattern of the central Mediterranean region around the late Miocene, when its Cycladic-Pelagonian sector welded into the southern Adriatic continental domain. Under the westward push of the Tethyan belt, the Adria plate decoupled from Africa and from its Padanian protuberance and rotated clockwise at the expense of the western Apulian low-buoyancy zone. The available geological evidence in the study area suggests that volcanic activity was spatially associated with extension in the upper crust. We discuss the possible implications of this inferred geodynamic connection between the Arabian indentation and regional deformation patterns for the temporal evolution of deep tectonic processes in the central–eastern Mediterranean.

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