The Sardinian Cainozoic rifted basin is a useful model for studying the stratigraphic response to the Oligo-Miocene structural extension in the western Mediterranean because it allows precise observations on the relationship between sedimentation and normal faulting based on outcrops and seismic reflection data. The purpose of this paper, essentially of stratigraphic nature is to propose a chronology as precise as possible of the tectonic events and of the sedimentary formations. Indeed the tectono-sedimentary framework is complex, characterized by an extreme facies variability, from continental to marginal transitional and to marine environments (shallow-water, hemipelagic). Rifting, active calc-alkaline volcanism and sea-level changes caused rapid physiographical evolution, which controlled progressive marine ingression. New chronobiostratigraphical data presented in this paper allow correlating the sequences, defining their environment and depth of deposition and specifying precisely the timing of pre-, syn-, and post-rift stages in the Oligo-Miocene graben system. In southwestern Sardinia during the middle-late Eocene, after the Pyrenean phase, a continental graben (Cixerri), W-E oriented, preceded the Oligo-Miocene extension, which reactivated inherited Eocene and Palaeozoic faults. The calc-alkaline volcanic activity ranging from 32 to 13 Ma, provides a good estimate for the time span of the west-dipping Apenninic subduction responsible for the continental extension and the oceanic accretion in the western Mediterranean. In Sardinia the Oligo-Miocene extensional tectonics started in a continental environment, preceding the earliest calc-alkaline volcanic products (32 Ma). The marine ingression is dated to the late Chattian-Aquitanian interval and corresponds to a rapid deepening of the Oligo-Miocene graben system of tectonic origin. The end of the rifting i.e. the end of normal faulting activity is pre-middle Burdigalian in age. When Sardinia was in the post-rift stage, extension continued until late Burdigalian – Langhian in the Algero-Provençal basin with oceanic accretion and rotation of the Corsica-Sardinia block (CSB).

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