The structural evolution of the western Mediterranean region cannot be explained on the basis of any single category of physical processes, such as continental migration or subcrustal convection currents, but by action of several processes, whose individual roles varied with time and place. Four stages are distinguished in the structural evolution--disjunction leading to separation of the "Mediterranean mosaic" into several fragments at the close of the Paleozoic and the beginning of the Mesozoic; monoliminary (autonomous) evolution of the border of certain of these fragments during the Mesozoic; diastrophic activity in middle Eocene to upper Oligocene time, during which the blocks of the mosaic were squeezed between Europe and Africa; Miocene to Plio-Quaternary phases of relaxation, accompanied by isostatic readjustment and subcrustal flow.

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