International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 105, Issue 7, pp 2075–2096 | Cite as

Ductile nappe stacking and refolding in the Cycladic Blueschist Unit: insights from Sifnos Island (south Aegean Sea)

  • Eirini Aravadinou
  • Paraskevas XypoliasEmail author
  • Vasileios Chatzaras
  • Ioannis Iliopoulos
  • Nikolaos Gerogiannis
Original Paper


New geological and structural mapping combined with kinematic and amphibole chemistry analyses is used to investigate the deformation history of the Cycladic Blueschist Unit (CBU) on Sifnos Island (Cyclades, Aegean Sea). We concentrate on north Sifnos, an area characterized by exceptionally well-preserved eclogites and blueschists. Our data show that the early, main phase (D2) of ductile deformation in the CBU occurred synchronous with the transition from prograde to close-to-peak retrograde conditions. This deformation phase took place at middle Eocene and is related to ESE-directed thrusting that emplaced the metavolcano-sedimentary subunit over the Marble subunit. The subsequent exhumation-related (D3) deformation is characterized by gently NE-plunging folds and NE-directed contractional shear zones that formed parallel to the axial planes of folds. NE-directed shearing occurred under blueschist and transitional blueschist-/greenschist-facies conditions during late Eocene–Oligocene and caused the restacking of the early nappe pile. We suggest that a mechanism of ductile extrusion of the CBU in a tectonic setting of net compression could explain better the recorded exhumation-related deformation than a mechanism of syn- and post-orogenic extension. Our new kinematic results in combination with previous works in the Cyclades area reveal a regional scale change in tectonic transport direction from (W)NW–(E)SE at Late Cretaceous–middle Eocene to (E)NE–(W)SW at late Eocene–Oligocene times. The observed change in transport direction may be governed by the relative motion of Africa with respect to Europe during Alpine orogeny.


Blueschist Ductile thrust Ductile deformation Hellenides High-pressure metamorphism 



We would like to thank Franz Neubauer and Rodolfo Carosi for their critical reviews which are helpful clarifying and improving this manuscript. Thanks are also due to GEOTAG AEROVIEW Ltd ( for providing us the oblique aerial photograph appeared in Fig. 5c. This work was supported by Grant Ε045 (awarded to P. Xypolias) from the Research Committee of the University of Patras (Programme K. Karatheodori).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 9 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eirini Aravadinou
    • 1
  • Paraskevas Xypolias
    • 1
    Email author
  • Vasileios Chatzaras
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ioannis Iliopoulos
    • 1
  • Nikolaos Gerogiannis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeologyUniversity of PatrasPatrasGreece
  2. 2.Department of GeoscienceUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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