In the Cyclades, low-angle normal faults juxtaposed Miocene sedimentary rock units lying over Alpine blueschist- and greenschist-facies metamorphic rocks and Miocene granites. The sedimentary units in the hanging wall were deposited in fault-bounded basins while their footwalls progressively emerged through the ductile and brittle crust.
The sedimentation in the basins evolved from marine turbidites in the Early Miocene to shallow/continental conglomerates during the Late Miocene. The transition from marine to fan delta sedimentation was coeval with widespread magmatism and possibly reflects true crustal uplift. It is inferred that the sequence is no younger than 8 Ma.
K–Ar and 40Ar/39Ar geochronology, petrology and petrography of the clasts deposited on the hanging wall provide proof of progressive exhumation of the footwall and reveal the nature of the overburden that covered the Cycladic blueschist belt during Alpine orogeny in the Tertiary. Abundant metamorphic clasts yielding mica cooling ages between 80 and 100 Ma occur throughout the sedimentary section and probably pertain to a vast Pelagonian-type rock mass that covered the internal Hellenides from the Olympos to the central Cyclades. In addition, volcanic clasts dated at 10 Ma reveal the existence of a hitherto unknown volcanic province of that age in the central Aegean. Miocene crustal extension and exhumation of granitic plutons is recorded in the detrital sequence in a concentration of 10 Ma granitic clasts restricted to the top of the conglomerate sequence. A group of metamorphic clasts that yielded ages of 13–16 Ma possibly represents exhumation of mid crustal levels. Clasts similar to the currently-exposed Cycladic Blueschist Unit, such as 40 Ma old blueschists, eclogites and marble, were not found, thus indicating the very late exposure of these footwall rocks.