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Tectonic Development of The Southeast Anatolian Suture Mountains and the Northern Edge of the Arabian Platform


The southeast Anatolian orogenic belt may be divided into three east west trending zones. From south to north these are foreland of the Arabian continental platform, an imbricated zone and the nappes. The Arabian Platform includes a sedimentary succession deposited from the Cambrian to middle Miocene. The imbricated zone is a narrow belt sandwiched between The Arabian Platform and the Nappes. It consists of imbricated thrust slices emplaced onto the Arabian Foreland succession. The Nappes form the highest tectonic unit, consisting of two stacks of nappe packages designated the Lower and the Upper nappes. The Lower nappe is represented by a polyphase metamorphic ophiolitic assemblage and a marginal basin assemblage. The upper nappe rests tectonically on the lower nappe, and is represented by the metamorphic massifs of SE Anatolia i.e.the Bitlis Massif. The foreland of the Arabian Platform represents a thick sedimentary succession, which accumulated on the Arabian craton since the early Paleozoic time. Their styles of deformation are reflected on the morphological pattern. Southeast Anatolian orogen suffered two major deformational phases. The first phase occurred during the Late Cretaceous, when and ophiolitic nappe emplaced on the northern periphery of the Arabian Platform. This event was not the consequence of a continental collision as advocated previously. The second episode of deformation occurred during middle Eocene-late Miocene period in two distinct stages as a result of progressive elimination of the ocean(s), which led to the collision between the nappes and the The Arabian Platform. Two dominant morphological features formed in the region: east–west trending suture mountains in the north, and a foreland fold and thrust belt along edge of the Arabian Platform in the south. The imbricated zone units collectively reveal that not only the Tethys ocean but its back arc and marginal basins were formed, and then they were destroyed during the course of orogeny. The development of the southeast Anatolian ororenic belt may be summarized as progressive southerly transportation of the nappe piles toward the Arabian plate from Eocene to middle Miocene time. This caused progressive accretion of different tectonic units into the nappe pile, which itself finally accreated to the northern edge of the Arabian continental margin.