The Role of Local Tectonics Versus Global Sea-Level Change in the Neogene Evolution of the Cyprus Active Margin

  1. David I. M. Macdonald
  1. A. H. F. Robertson1,
  2. S. Eaton2,
  3. E. J. Follows1 and
  4. J. E. McCallum3

Published Online: 14 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444303896.ch19

Sedimentation, Tectonics and Eustasy: Sea-Level Changes at Active Margins

Sedimentation, Tectonics and Eustasy: Sea-Level Changes at Active Margins

How to Cite

Robertson, A. H. F., Eaton, S., Follows, E. J. and McCallum, J. E. (1991) The Role of Local Tectonics Versus Global Sea-Level Change in the Neogene Evolution of the Cyprus Active Margin, in Sedimentation, Tectonics and Eustasy: Sea-Level Changes at Active Margins (ed D. I. M. Macdonald), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444303896.ch19

Editor Information

  1. British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Geology and Geophysics, Grant Institute, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JW, UK

  2. 2

    K.S.E.P.L., Volmerlaan 6, Rijswijk, The Netherlands

  3. 3

    Alastair Beach Associates, 11 Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow G1, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 APR 2009
  2. Published Print: 13 JUN 1991

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632030170

Online ISBN: 9781444303896



  • local tectonics role versus global sea-level change in Neogene evolution of Cyprus active margin;
  • Miocene—Pliocene stratigraphical record of N—S transect of central Cyprus - showing tectonics influence on sedimentation;
  • Cyprus active margin setting;
  • initiation of Neogene Cyprus active margin;
  • Kyrenia Range - running E—W, through northern part of Cyprus;
  • Yerasa lineament - reactivated ophiolite fracture zone;
  • Miocene facies of Cyprus;
  • Messinian salinity crisis in Cyprus;
  • Pliocene palaeoenvironments


The Miocene–Pliocene stratigraphical record of a N–S transect of central Cyprus shows that tectonics exerted the dominant influence on sedimentation, modified by the effects of global eustatic sea-level changes. The area lies in a complex collision zone in the eastern Mediterranean that separates the African and Eurasian plates. The Cyprus active margin has undergone northward subduction, probably at least since early Miocene time. Subduction was limited, however, with no well-defined volcanic arc. Pulsed uplift of the Troodos ophiolite resulted in deposition of an overall regressive-upwards mega-sequence. Following Early Tertiary deep-water carbonate deposition, in a relatively stable setting, Miocene convergence gave rise to three subparallel, compressional lineaments in southern Cyprus. The best-exposed, central, lineament (Yerasa) had stabilized and was subsiding by late Miocene time, allowing reef limestone growth during inferred sea-level rise. To the north, another lineament (Ayia Mavri) was active in late Miocene (Messinian) to earliest Pliocene time, and several other deformation zones are recognized. Crustal weaknesses were exploited by these lineaments. A wide range of pelagic carbonates and minor channelized, ophiolite-derived conglomerates, and reefs and their associated debris accumulated in adjacent, tectonically controlled sub-basins (Maroni and Khalassa). Simultaneously, 60 km to the north, extension and growth faulting took place during early–late Miocene time, with Tortonian reef development on uplifted fault blocks. During the Messinian salinity crisis, sea-level dropped and gypsum was precipitated within pre-existing, silled basins, at depths from a few metres to several hundred metres. During a time of inferred northward subduction in the Pliocene, southern Cyprus remained relatively stable, but shallowed. A major channel was cut and then filled in the (?)late Pliocene, apparently following eustatic sea-level fall. Further north, strong extension in the early Pliocene created a major half-graben (Mesaoria Basin), that shallowed upwards, accommodating c. 900 m of marine clastics. In response to pulsed uplift, fan-deltas prograded northwards, off the eroding Troodos ophiolite, first in the early Pliocene, then, on a larger scale, in the (?)late Pliocene–(?)early Pleistocene, eventually giving way to fluvial deposition. More northerly areas of the Mesaoria Basin were dominated by bioclastic sand waves, derived from the north, with possibly eustatically controlled drowning of offshore barrier bars and coastal areas. The whole of Cyprus was drastically uplifted in mid-Pleistocene time, followed by relative tectonic quiescence in the Holocene.