A co-investigation of mantle melting conditions and seismic structure revealed an evolutionary record of mantle dynamics accompanying the transition from subduction to collision along the Africa-Eurasia margin and the >1 km uplift of the Anatolian Plateau. New 40Ar/39Ar dates of volcanic rocks from the Eastern Taurides (southeast Turkey) considerably expand the known spatial extent of Miocene-aged mafic volcanism following a magmatic lull over much of Anatolia that ended at ca. 20 Ma. Mantle equilibration depths for these chemically diverse basalts are interpreted to indicate that early to middle Miocene lithospheric thickness in the region varied from ~50 km or less near the Bitlis suture zone to ~80 km near the Inner Tauride suture zone. This southward-tapering lithospheric base could be a vestige of the former interface between the subducted (and now detached) portion of the Arabian plate and the overriding Eurasian plate, and/or a reflection of mantle weakening associated with greater mantle hydration trenchward prior to collision. Asthenospheric upwelling driven by slab tearing and foundering along this former interface, possibly accompanied by convective removal of the lithosphere, could have led to renewed volcanic activity after 20 Ma. Melt equilibration depths for late Miocene and Pliocene basalts together with seismic imaging of the present lithosphere indicate that relatively invariant lithospheric thicknesses of 60–70 km have persisted since the middle Miocene. Thus, no evidence is found for large-scale (tens of kilometers) Miocene delamination of the lower lithosphere from the overriding plate, which has been proposed elsewhere to account for late Miocene and younger uplift of Anatolia.

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