The Cuccuru ’e Flores Conglomerate of eastern Sardinia, a syntectonic unit lining major Cenozoic faults, has been dated by means of palynology at the early middle Lutetian. The deposits were mainly laid down by sediment gravity flows in a subaqueous setting and formed aprons of laterally interfingering debris cones at the toe of active tectonic scarps. Most clasts of rudites are of local provenance. Interestingly, the rudites include minor amounts of clasts of formations which no longer crop out in the area, providing important information on the reconstruction of the original stratigraphic succession and palaeogeography, especially during late Cretaceous and early Palaeogene times.

During the Eocene, i.e. in a pre-rotation stage, Sardinia was subjected to the influence of both Alpine and Pyrenean orogenic belts. In eastern Sardinia, the compressional stress field was consistent with that existing in the foreland of the Alpine chain in Corsica, and was expressed by significant wrench tectonics affecting the Variscan basement and the pre-Oligocene sedimentary cover. Deformations associated with major strike-slip faults, such as enéchelon folds and positive flower structures occurring in fault-restraining bends, suggest a shortening direction around N105° (in present-day coordinates).

A subsequent wrenching phase of Late Oligocene-Early Miocene age involved reactivation of former “Alpine” faults in a sharply different stress field. This tectonics reflects the intermediate position of the eastern Sardinia belt between the area affected by back-arc stretching (the Sardinian rift and the Liguro-Provençal basin) and the arcuate Apenninic subduction front active in a framework of left-lateral oblique plate convergence.

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