Abstract

We quantitatively investigate the relation between nappe stacking and subduction in the Aegean region. If nappe stacking is the result of the decoupling of upper-crustal parts (5–10 km thick) from subducting lithosphere, then the amount of convergence estimated from balancing the nappe stack provides a lower limit to the amount of convergence accommodated by subduction. The balanced nappe stack combined with the estimated amount of completely subducted lithosphere indicates 700 km of Jurassic and 2400 km of post-Jurassic convergence. From seismic tomographic images of the underlying mantle, we estimate 2100–2500 km of post-Jurassic convergence. We conclude that (1) the imaged slab represents the subducted lithosphere that originally underlay the nappes, (2) since the Early Cretaceous, subduction in the Aegean has occurred in one single subduction zone, and (3) the composition of the original basement of the nappes indicates that at least 900 km of sub-upper-crust continental lithosphere subducted in the Aegean.

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