The Aegean–west Anatolian orocline formed due to Neogene opposite rotations of its western and eastern limbs during opening of the Aegean back-arc basin. Stretching lineations in exhumed metamorphic complexes in this basin mimic the regional vertical-axis rotation patterns and suggest that the oppositely rotating domains are sharply bounded along a Mid-Cycladic lineament, the tectonic nature of which is enigmatic. Some have proposed this lineament to be an extensional fault accommodating orogen-parallel extension, while others have considered it to be a transform fault. The island of Paros hosts the only exposure of the E- to NE-trending lineations characterizing the NW Cyclades and the N-trending lineations of the SE Cyclades. Here, we show new paleomagnetic results from isotropic, ca. 16 Ma granitoids that intruded both domains and demonstrate that the trend difference resulted from post–16 Ma ∼90° clockwise and 10° counterclockwise rotation of the NW and SE blocks, respectively. We interpret the semiductile to brittle, low-angle, SE-dipping Elitas shear zone that accommodated this rotation difference to reflect the Mid-Cycladic lineament. We conclude a two-stage exhumation history for Paros that is consistent with regional Aegean reconstructions. Between ca. 23 and 16 Ma, the metamorphic rocks of Paros were exhumed from amphibolite-facies to greenschist-facies conditions along a top-to-the-N detachment. The Elitas shear zone then started to exhume the northwestern, clockwise-rotating domain from below the southeastern, counterclockwise rotating domain since 16 Ma. From this, we infer that the Mid-Cycladic lineament is an extensional shear zone, consistent with geometric predictions that Aegean oroclinal bending was accommodated by orogen-normal and orogen-parallel extension.

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