Plutonic and metamorphic rocks of the southwest part of the Rhodope massif in Greece correspond to ductile lower crust exhumed and deformed along a major detachment during post-thickening extensional tectonics. Extension started during the Oligocene and is responsible for the development of Miocene–Quaternary sedimentary basins. Both brittle and ductile deformations result from gravity collapse of previously thickened lithosphere, as proposed for others large extended terranes. This interpretation disagrees with the previous models which attributed Tertiary ductile deformation to Alpine thrusting and brittle extensional deformation to back arc tectonics above a subduction zone.

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