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The Geological Evolution of Cyprus

The genesis of Cyprus took place through a series of tectonic episodes (Fig. 12).  It originated with the subduction of the African plate beneath the Eurasian plate and the formation of the Troodos Ophiolite (Upper Cretaceous, 90 Ma), continued with its detachment and sinistral (anticlockwise) rotation of 90° and the attachment to its southern and western part of older rocks ranging in age from 230 to 75 million years (Mamonia Zone).  A period of relative tectonic inactivity followed, spanning in time from approximately 75 to 10 million years, and was characterised by carbonate sedimentation and gradual shallowing of the sedimentary basin (Lefkara and Pakhna Formations).  The placement of the Pentadaktylos Range in the northern part of the Troodos Zone and the uplift of the island to almost its present position (Miocene, 10-15 Ma) constitutes the second last tectonic episode.

With the subduction of the plates and their relevant readjustment, the plates moved northwards so that their southern edges were placed in the area where the Pentadaktylos Range would finally be positioned.  Marine sedimentation and relative tectonic inactivity dominated south of that area following the merging of the Troodos and the Mamonia Zones.  At the same time the periodic uplift of the Troodos began following its formation, creating the island.  At the end of Miocene (6 Ma), in the northern-most part of the region that would constitute Cyprus, a series of allochthonous limestones (Pentadaktylos Zone) were placed over the flanks of the Troodos Zone, folding and displacing all of the younger sediments.  East of Cyprus, the Tethys Ocean was closed and the Mediterranean Sea obtained almost its present shape.

The reconnection of the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean (with the opening of the Gibraltar Strait) and the rise of the sea level resulted in the deposition of new sediments, which are today represented by the marls and calcarenites of the Nicosia and Athalassa Formations.  An abrupt uplift of the area occurred during the Pleistocene, approximately 2 Ma (last tectonic episode), where the Troodos and Pentadaktylos Ranges were uplifted in elevations higher than today’s.  The abrupt uplift, combined with heavy rainfall, resulted in extensive erosion of the ranges, particularly that of Troodos, with the transportation of large quantities of erosion material (clastic deposits).  These clastic sediments were deposited in large valleys and in the Mesaoria region, forming the Pleistocene Fanglomerates.

 

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