Abstract: GPS survey sites in the Sinai Peninsula show northerly motion relative to Africa (Nubia) at 1.4F0.8 mm/yr north and 0.4F0.8 mm/yr west. Continuous IGS GPS sites in Israel, west of the Dead Sea fault show a similar northerly sense of motion relative to Nubia (2.4F0.6 mm/yr north and 0.04F0.7 mm/yr east), suggesting that the entire Sinai Block south of Lebanon is characterized by northward translation relative to the Nubian plate. We develop an elastic block model constrained by the GPS results that is consistent with the regional tectonics and allows us to estimate slip rates for Sinai bounding faults, including the Gulf of Aqaba–southern Dead Sea fault system (~4.4F0.3 mm/yr, left lateral), the Gulf of Suez (1.9F0.3 mm/yr left lateral, and 1.5F0.4 mm/yr extension), and the Cyprus Arc (predominantly convergence at 8.9F0.4 mm/yr along the western segment, and ~6.0F0.4 mm/yr left lateral, strike slip along the eastern segment). These observations imply that the Sinai Peninsula and Levant region comprise a separate sub-plate sandwiched between the Arabian and Nubian plates. D 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Abstract:  The GPS-derived velocity field (1988–2005) for the zone of interaction of the Arabian, African (Nubian, Somalian), and Eurasian plates indicates counterclockwise rotation of a broad area of the Earth's surface including the Arabian plate, adjacent parts of the Zagros and central Iran, Turkey, and the Aegean/Peloponnesus relative to Eurasia at rates in the range of 20–30 mm/yr. This relatively rapid motion occurs within the framework of the slow-moving (∼5 mm/yr relative motions) Eurasian, Nubian, and Somalian plates. The circulatory pattern of motion increases in rate toward the Hellenic trench system. We develop an elastic block model to constrain present-day plate motions (relative Euler vectors), regional deformation within the interplate zone, and slip rates for major faults. Substantial areas of continental lithosphere within the region of plate interaction show coherent motion with internal deformations below ∼1–2 mm/yr, including central and eastern Anatolia (Turkey), the southwestern Aegean/Peloponnesus, the Lesser Caucasus, and Central Iran. Geodetic slip rates for major block-bounding structures are mostly comparable to geologic rates estimated for the most recent geological period (∼3–5 Myr). We find that the convergence of Arabia with Eurasia is accommodated in large part by lateral transport within the interior part of the collision zone and lithospheric shortening along the Caucasus and Zagros mountain belts around the periphery of the collision zone. In addition, we find that the principal boundary between the westerly moving Anatolian plate and Arabia (East Anatolian fault) is presently characterized by pure left-lateral strike slip with no fault-normal convergence. This implies that “extrusion” is not presently inducing westward motion of Anatolia. On the basis of the observed kinematics, we hypothesize that deformation in the Africa-Arabia-Eurasia collision zone is driven in large part by rollback of the subducting African lithosphere beneath the Hellenic and Cyprus trenches aided by slab pull on the southeastern side of the subducting Arabian plate along the Makran subduction zone. We further suggest that the separation of Arabia from Africa is a response to plate motions induced by active subduction.
Abstract: We present a new global model of plate motions and strain rates in plate boundary zones constrained by horizontal geodetic velocities. This Global Strain Rate Model (GSRM v.2.1) is a vast improvement over its predecessor both in terms of amount of data input as in an increase in spatial model resolution by factor of ∼2.5 in areas with dense data coverage. We determined 6739 velocities from time series of (mostly) continuous GPS measurements; i.e., by far the largest global velocity solution to date. We transformed 15,772 velocities from 233 (mostly) published studies onto our core solution to obtain 22,511 velocities in the same reference frame. Care is taken to not use velocities from stations (or time periods) that are affected by transient phenomena; i.e., this data set consists of velocities best representing the interseismic plate velocity. About 14% of the Earth is allowed to deform in 145,086 deforming grid cells (0.25° longitude by 0.2° latitude in dimension). The remainder of the Earth's surface is modeled as rigid spherical caps representing 50 tectonic plates. For 36 plates we present new GPS-derived angular velocities. For all the plates that can be compared with the most recent geologic plate motion model, we find that the difference in angular velocity is significant. The rigid-body rotations are used as boundary conditions in the strain rate calculations. The strain rate field is modeled using the Haines and Holt method, which uses splines to obtain an self-consistent interpolated velocity gradient tensor field, from which strain rates, vorticity rates, and expected velocities are derived. We also present expected faulting orientations in areas with significant vorticity, and update the no-net rotation reference frame associated with our global velocity gradient field. Finally, we present a global map of recurrence times for Mw=7.5 characteristic earthquakes.
Abstract: I combine recently published GPS results to derive a geodetic horizontal velocity field consistent at the scale of the Mediterranean and the surrounding Alpine belts. The velocity field is then used to discuss the boundary conditions around each major deforming area in the Mediterranean, to describe the main patterns of motion and deformation, to critically review the existing kinematics models and to finally point out the main unresolved kinematics questions. Strain rate in Europe north of the Alpines belt is dominated by the signature of the Glacial Isostatic Adjustment and tectonic strain remains below the current accuracy of GPS results. In the western Mediterranean, deformation is restricted to the Betics, the Alboran and the Morrocan Rif, with west-to-southwestward motion with respect to Iberia, which is part of stable Europe. Shortening, consistent with the relative Nubia/Eurasia plate motion, is found throughout the Maghrebides, but the distribution of deformation in northern Africa remains largely unknown. The central Mediterranean is dominated by the counter-clockwise rotation of the Adriatic. The junction between the southern Adriatic domain and Nubia has yet to be firmly established. The deformation over a wide area, east of the Maghrebides, in Tunisia and the gulf of Sirte in Libya still remains to be quantified. In the eastern Mediterranean, the velocity field is dominated by a general anti-clockwise rotation and a general trend towards the Hellenic trench, with velocity magnitude increasing with decreasing distances from the trench. This trend is observed not only in the Aegean and Anatolia, but also in the southern Balkans. Geodetic results emphasize that the convergence of the Nubia and Arabia plates towards Eurasia directly controls the deformation across only very few segments along the plate boundary zone. Additional processes are therefore required to explain the observed velocity field and deformation pattern.
Using space geodetic observations from four techniques (GPS, VLBI, SLR and DORIS), we simultaneously estimate the angular velocities of 11 major plates and the velocity of Earth's centre. We call this set of relative plate angular velocities GEODVEL (for GEODesy VELocity).
Plate angular velocities depend on the estimate of the velocity of Earth's centre and on the assignment of sites to plates. Most geodetic estimates of the angular velocities of the plates are determined assuming that Earth's centre is fixed in an International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF), and are therefore subject to errors in the estimate of the velocity of Earth's centre. In ITRF2005 and ITRF2000, Earth's centre is the centre of mass of Earth, oceans and atmosphere (CM); the velocity of CM is estimated by SLR observation of LAGEOS's orbit. Herein we define Earth's centre to be the centre of mass of solid Earth (CE); we determine the velocity of CE by assuming that the portions of plate interiors not near the late Pleistocene ice sheets move laterally as if they were part of a rigid spherical cap. The GEODVEL estimate of the velocity of CE is likely nearer the true velocity of CM than are the ITRF2005 and ITRF2000 estimates because (1) no phenomena can sustain a significant velocity between CM and CE, (2) the plates are indeed nearly rigid (aside from vertical motion) and (3) the velocity of CM differs between ITRF2005 and ITRF2000 by an unacceptably large speed of 1.8 mm yr−1. The velocity of Earth's centre in GEODVEL lies between that of ITRF2000 and that of ITRF2005, with the distance from ITRF2005 being about twice that from ITRF2000. Because the GEODVEL estimates of uncertainties in plate angular velocities account for uncertainty in the velocity of Earth's centre, they are more realistic than prior estimates of uncertainties.
GEODVEL differs significantly from all prior global sets of relative plate angular velocities determined from space geodesy. For example, the 95 per cent confidence limits for the angular velocities of GEODVEL exclude those of REVEL (Sella et al.) for 34 of the 36 plate pairs that can be formed between any two of the nine plates with the best-constrained motion. The median angular velocity vector difference between GEODVEL and REVEL is 0.028° Myr−1, which is up to 3.1 mm yr−1 on Earth's surface. GEODVEL differs the least from the geodetic angular velocities that Altamimi et al. determine from ITRF2005. GEODVEL's 95 per cent confidence limits exclude 11 of 36 angular velocities of Altamimi et al., and the median difference is 0.015° Myr−1.
GEODVEL differs significantly from nearly all relative plate angular velocities averaged over the past few million years, including those of NUVEL-1A. The difference of GEODVEL from updated 3.2 Myr angular velocities is statistically significant for all but two of 36 angular velocities with a median difference of 0.063° Myr−1. Across spreading centres, eight have slowed down while only two have sped up. We conclude that plate angular velocities over the past few decades differ significantly from the corresponding angular velocity averaged over the past 3.2 Myr.
Abstract:  Along the northern border of Africa, Pangea breakup has been diachronic. During the Jurassic, the Alpine Tethys propagated northeastward from the Atlantic to the Alps. During the Permian, the Neo-Tethys propagated westward from Oman to northwestern Arabia. Then a secondary and late branch of Neo-Tethys gave birth to the East Mediterranean basin. Finally the two oceans connected at end of Jurassic times, achieving the development of Africa northern plate boundary. By the Late Cretaceous, convergence between Africa and Eurasia led to the progressive closure of the Tethys realm. The continental collision is not completely achieved, and the different segments of the confrontation zone (Maghreb, central and East Mediterranean, Zagros, and Oman) expose different stages of the process. However, we emphasize the existence of synchronous geodynamic events from one end of the system to the other, although they do not have the same meaning. Two of them are particularly important. The Campanian-Santonian (C-S) event corresponds to (1) obduction and exhumation of high-pressure–low-temperature metamorphic rocks around the Arabian promontory, (2) inversion along the margins of the East Mediterranean basins, and (3) lithosphere buckling in the Atlas system (Maghreb) and adjacent Sahara platform. The middle-late Eocene (MLE) event corresponds to (1) the onset of collision at the northern corner of Arabia, (2) the onset of slab retreat in the Mediterranean, and (3) inversion along the margin of the East Mediterranean as well as in the Atlas. The C-S event coincides with a change in plate kinematics resulting in an abrupt increase of convergence velocity. The MLE event coincides with a period of strong coupling between the Africa and Eurasia plates and an abrupt decrease of convergence velocity. In the middle of the system, the central Mediterranean seems to escape to the effects of convergence and is the site of quite permanent extensional movements since the Triassic.
Abstract: We present and interpret Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements of crustal motions for the period 1988–1997 at 189 sites extending east-west from the Caucasus mountains to the Adriatic Sea and north-south from the southern edge of the Eurasian plate to the northern edge of the African plate. Sites on the northern Arabian platform move 18±2 mm/yr at N25°±5°W relative to Eurasia, less than the NUVEL-1A circuit closure rate (25±1 mm/yr at N21°±7°W). Preliminary motion estimates (1994–1997) for stations located in Egypt on the northeastern part of Africa show northward motion at 5–6±2 mm/yr, also slower than NUVEL-IA estimates (10±1 mm/yr at N2°±4°E). Eastern Turkey is characterized by distributed deformation, while central Turkey is characterized by coherent plate motion (internal deformation of <2 mm/yr) involving westward displacement and counterclockwise rotation of the Anatolian plate. The Anatolian plate is de-coupled from Eurasia along the right-lateral, strike-slip North Anatolian fault (NAF). We derive a best fitting Euler vector for Anatolia-Eurasia motion of 30.7°± 0.8°N, 32.6°± 0.4°E, 1.2°±0.1°/Myr. The Euler vector gives an upper bound for NAF slip rate of 24±1 mm/yr. We determine a preliminary GPS Arabia-Anatolia Euler vector of 32.9°±1.2°N, 40.3°±1.1°E, 0.8°±0.2°/Myr and an upper bound on left-lateral slip on the East Anatolian fault (EAF) of 9±1 mm/yr. The central and southern Aegean is characterized by coherent motion (internal deformation of <2 mm/yr) toward the SW at 30±1 mm/yr relative to Eurasia. Stations in the SE Aegean deviate significantly from the overall motion of the southern Aegean, showing increasing velocities toward the trench and reaching 10±1 mm/yr relative to the southern Aegean as a whole.
Abstract: We discuss nine palinspastic geological maps (Plates 1–9), at 1 20,000,000 scale, which depict the evolution of the Tethys belt from the Pliensbachian (190 Ma) to the Tortonian (10 Ma). A Present structural map (Plate 10) is shown for comparison at the same scale with the same conventions. Our reconstructions are based on a kinematic synthesis (Savostin et al., 1986), a paleomagnetic synthesis (Westphal et al., 1986) and geological compilations and analyses concerning in particular the western domain (Ricou et al., 1986), the eastern passive margins (Kazmin et al., 1986a), the eastern active margins (Kazmin et al., 1986b), the Black Sea-Caspian Sea basins (Zonenshain and Le Pichon, 1986) and the ophiolites (Knipper et al., 1986).
TL;DR: The seismicity and fault plane solutions in the Mediterranean area show that two small rapidly moving plates exist in the Eastern Mediterranean, and such plates may be a common feature of contracting ocean basins.
Abstract: The seismicity and fault plane solutions in the Mediterranean area show that two small rapidly moving plates exist in the Eastern Mediterranean, and such plates may be a common feature of contracting ocean basins. The results show that the concepts of plate tectonics apply to instantaneous motions across continental plate boundaries.
Abstract: SUMMARY We use continuously recording GPS (CGPS) and survey-mode GPS (SGPS) observations to determine Euler vectors for relative motion of the African (Nubian), Arabian and Eurasian plates. We present a well-constrained Eurasia‐Nubia Euler vector derived from 23 IGS sites in Europe and four CGPS and three SGPS sites on the Nubian Plate (−0.95 ± 4.8 ◦ N, −21.8 ± 4.3 ◦ E, 0.06 ± 0.005 ◦ Myr −1 ). We see no significant (> 1m m yr −1 ) internal deformation of the Nubian Plate. The GPS Nubian‐Eurasian Euler vector differs significantly from NUVEL-1A (21.0 ± 4.2 ◦ N, −20.6 ± 0.6 ◦ E, 0.12 ± 0.015 ◦ Myr −1 ), implying more westward motion of Africa relative to Eurasia and slower convergence in the eastern Mediterranean. The Arabia‐ Eurasia and Arabia‐Nubia GPS Euler vectors are less well determined, based on only one CGPS and three SGPS sites on the Arabian Plate. The preliminary Arabia‐Eurasia and Arabia‐ Nubia Euler vectors are 27.4 ± 1.0 ◦ N, 18.4 ± 2.5 ◦ E, 0.40 ± 0.04 ◦ Myr −1 , and 30.5 ± 1.0 ◦ N, 25.7 ± 2.3 ◦ E, 0.37 ± 0.04 ◦ Myr −1 , respectively. The GPS Arabia‐Nubia Euler vector differs significantly from NUVEL-1A (24.1 ± 1.7 ◦ N, 24.0 ± 3.5 ◦ E, 0.40 ± 0.05 ◦ Myr −1 ), but is statistically consistent at the 95 per cent confidence level with the revised Euler vector reported by Chu & Gordon based on a re-evaluation of magnetic anomalies in the Red Sea (31.5 ± 1.2 ◦ N, 23.0 ± 2.7 ◦ E, 0.40 ± 0.05 ◦ Myr −1 ). The motion implied in the Gulf of Aqaba and on the Dead Sea fault (DSF) by the new GPS Nubia‐Arabia Euler vector (i.e. ignoring possible Sinai block motion and possible internal plate deformation) grades from pure left lateral strike-slip in the Gulf and on the southern DSF with increasing compression on the central and northern DSF with relative motion increasing from 5.6 to 7.5 mm yr −1 (± 1m m yr −1 ) from south to north. Along the northern DSF (i.e. north of the Lebanon restraining bend) motion is partitioned between 6 ± 1m m yr −1 left-lateral motion parallel to the fault trace and 4 ± 1m m yr −1 faultnormal compression. Relative motions on other plate boundaries (including the Anatolian and Aegean microplates) derived from the GPS Euler vectors agree qualitatively with the sense of motion indicated by focal mechanisms for large crustal earthquakes (M > 6). Where data are available on fault-slip rates on plate bounding faults (North Anatolian fault, East Anatolian fault, Dead Sea fault, Red Sea rift), they are generally lower than, but not significantly different from, the full plate motion estimates suggesting that the majority of relative plate motion is accommodated on these structures.
Abstract: We discuss an approach for efficiently combining different types of geodetic data to estimate time-dependent motions of stations in a region of active deformation. The primary observations are analyzed separately to produce loosely constrained estimates of station positions and coordinate system parameters which are then combined with appropriate constraints to estimate velocities and coseismic displacements. We define noninteger degrees of freedom to handle the case of finite constraints and stochastic perturbation of parameters and develop statistical tests for determining compatibility between different data sets. With these developments, we show an example of combining space and terrestrial geodetic data to obtain the deformation field in southern California.