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The Geological Structure of Cyprus

 Cyprus is divided into four geological zones: (a) the Pentadaktylos (Kyrenia) Zone; (b) the Troodos Zone or Troodos Ophiolite; (c) the Mamonia Zone or Complex; and, (d) the Zone of the autochthonous sedimentary rocks (autochthonous means that the rocks were formed in the place where they are now found) (Fig. 1).


The Pentadaktylos (Kyrenia) Zone is the northern-most geological zone of Cyprus and is considered to be the southern-most portion of the Tauro-Diranide Alpine Zone.  It has an arciform disposition with an east-west direction and is characterised by southward thrusting (movement of placement to the south).  The base of the Zone is mostly composed of a series of allochthonous (were formed elsewhere than in their present place) massive and recrystallised limestones, dolomites and marbles of Permian–Carboniferous to Lower Cretaceous age (between 350–135 Ma).  These are stratigraphically followed by younger autochthonous sedimentary rocks of Upper Cretaceous to Middle Miocene age (67–15 Ma), on which the older allochthonous formations have been thrust southward.


The Troodos Zone or the Troodos Ophiolite dominates the central part of the island, constitutes the geological core of Cyprus (Fig. 2), appears in two regions (main mass of the Troodos mountain range and in the Limassol and Akapnou Forests south of the range) and has a characteristic elongated domal structure.  It was formed in the Upper Cretaceous (90 Ma ago) on the Tethys sea floor, which then extended from the Pyrenees through the Alps to the Himalayas (Tethys was an ocean that occupied the general position of the Alpine-Himalayan orogenic belt; the Mediterranean Sea is a remnant of Tethys).  It is regarded as the most complete and studied ophiolite in the world.  It is a fragment of a fully developed oceanic crust, consisting of plutonic, intrusive and volcanic rocks and chemical sediments.  The stratigraphic completeness of the ophiolite makes it unique.  It was created during the complex process of oceanic spreading and formation of oceanic crust and emerged and was placed in its present position through complicated tectonic processes relating to the collision of the Eurasian plate to the north and the African plate to the south.  The stratigraphy of the ophiolite shows a topographic inversion, with the lower suites of rocks outcropping in the highest points of the range, while the upper rocks appear on the flanks of the ophiolite.  This apparent inversion is related to the way the ophiolite was uplifted (diapirically) and to its differential erosion.  The diapiric rising of its core took place mainly with episodes of an abrupt uplift in the Pleistocene (2 Ma).

 The Mamonia Zone or Complex appears in the Paphos district in the south-western part of the island.  It constitutes a series of igneous (rocks that solidified from molten material, i.e. from magma), sedimentary (rocks that formed by deposition and consolidation of sediment) (Fig. 5) and metamorphic rocks (derived from pre-existing rocks), ranging in age from Middle Triassic to Upper Cretaceous (230–75 million years).  These rocks, which are regarded as allochthonous in relation to the overlying autochthonous carbonate successions and the Troodos Ophiolite rocks, were placed over and adjacent to the Troodos Ophiolite during the Maestrichtian.

 The Zone of the autochthonous sedimentary rocks, ranging in age from Upper Cretaceous through to Pleistocene (67 million years to recent), covers the area between the Pentadaktylos and Troodos Zones (Mesaoria) as well as the southern part of the island.  It consists of bentonitic clays, volcaniclastics, mélange, marls, chalks, cherts, limestones, calcarenites, evaporites and clastic sediments.



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