JOURNAL OF THE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, vol.174, no.4, pp.721-740, 2017 (SCI-Expanded)
Cenozoic convergence between the Eurasian and African plates and concurrent slab roll-back processes have produced a progressive extension in back-arc areas, such as the Aegean region and western Anatolia. There is still a long-standing controversy as to whether this was a continuous or stepwise process. To shed light on this controversy and on the driving mechanism of regional extension, we present palaeomagnetic and geochronological results from the Soke Basin located at the southeastern rim of the Izmir-Balikesir Transfer Zone. Our improved geochronology shows that volcanic activity in the region occurred between 11.66 and 12.85 Ma. Middle to late Miocene palaeomagnetic data for the Soke Basin show a c. 23 degrees clockwise rotation, whereas early Miocene data show a c. 28 degrees counterclockwise rotation. The primary nature of the magnetization is indicated by a positive tilt test. The resulting c. 51 degrees counterclockwise rotations during the middle Miocene signify a major tectonic reorganization, during a period when an interruption of exhumation of metamorphic massifs has been reported. We suggest that the Izmir-Balikesir Transfer Zone is the main driver of the reorganization in the region. The regional fingerprint of this tectonic reorganization coincides with the acceleration of trench retreat and illustrates the surface impact of tearing of the Hellenic slab.