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Crete: A Greek island with superb geology

June 9, 2016

 

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Crete is located above a subduction zone between the African, Aegean and Eurasian plates, a subduction zone associated with active volcanoes such as Santorini. The compressional forces started in Crete around 40 millions years ago and are responsible for the present-day seismicity and high topographic reliefs, there are several peaks that are above 2000m.

 

Minor earthquakes occur every year in Crete and some big earthquakes and related tsunamis have occurred during the past millennia. The most remarkable earthquake was associated with the explosion of a volcano on Santorini during the 15th century B.C. The destructive effects of this earthquake have been closely related with the demise of the Minoan civilization.

 

The tremendous geological diversity of Crete permitted the development of two Geoparks: Psiloritis Natural Park and Sitia. The most famous rock formation in Crete (cover photography) is located in Aglios Pavlos and shows an alternation of limestone and chert beds. The characteristic ziz-zag geometry of those layers, chevron type folds, is commonly observed when sequences alternating incompetent and competent materials are compressed.

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