Abstract

The Southern Aegean Sea (Sea of Crete) is a present day forearc basin in a dynamic tectonic setting that includes Quaternary calc-alkaline volcanism (Cyclades) on the northern margin; vertical uplift on the southern trenchward margin forming the Hellenic Arc of Paleozoic to Miocene alpine deformed rocks; and extensional tectonics affecting the whole Aegean area. Extension in the forearc basin has created a series of basin ponds separated by structural highs that limit sediment transport by bottom currents. Heavy mineral associations along the Crete and Rhodes coasts and in turbidite deposits from the Southern Aegean Sea were subjected to Q-mode factor analysis, which offers the advantage of defining a small number of end members by variable combinations of different minerals. Four heavy mineral suites along Crete and Rhodes coasts (one from the volcanic arc, three from different terranes exposed on the Hellenic Arc), and five from the Southern Aegean Sea (one from the volcanic margin and four from different parts of the Hellenic Arc) were identified. The mineralogical composition of sands from the different basins varies significantly, reflecting the composition of the nearby source areas. Heavy mineral analysis allowed a more detailed identification of source terranes than did light mineral analysis of the same sediments (Saccani 1987).

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