The Western Mediterranean Basin

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Abstract

The Western Mediterranean Sea is viewed as a marginal basin, generated by a north-northwest subduction of the Africa-Apulia plates beneath the European plate. Succeeding an Oligocene rifting phase, oceanic accretion occurred between 21 and 18 m.y. (million years) ago along three main spreading axes trending northwest-southwest in the Liguro-Provençal Basin, northwest-southeast in the southern Sardo-Balearic Basin, and east-west in the North Algerian Basin. Such kinematics and chronology are consistent with pa-leomagnetic data supporting the Sardinian rotation, basin and margin structure, subsidence since 21 m.y, (especially during Messinian time), and heat flow measurements.