Post-collisional mantle delamination in the Dinarides implied from staircases of Oligo-Miocene uplifted marine terraces

Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 29;11(1):2685. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-81561-5.


The Dinarides fold-thrust belt on the Balkan Peninsula resulted from convergence between the Adriatic and Eurasian plates since Mid-Jurassic times. Under the Dinarides, S-wave receiver functions, P-wave tomographic models, and shear-wave splitting data show anomalously thin lithosphere overlying a short down-flexed slab geometry. This geometry suggests a delamination of Adriatic lithosphere. Here, we link the evolution of this continental convergence system to hitherto unreported sets of extensively uplifted Oligocene-Miocene (28-17 Ma) marine terraces preserved at elevations of up to 600 m along the Dinaric coastal range. River incision on either side of the Mediterranean-Black Sea drainage divide is comparable to the amounts of terrace uplift. The preservation of the uplifted terraces implies that the most External Dinarides did not experience substantial deformation other than surface uplift in the Neogene. These observations and the contemporaneous emplacement of igneous rocks (33-22 Ma) in the internal Dinarides suggest that the Oligo-Miocene orogen-wide uplift was driven by post-break-off delamination of the Adriatic lithospheric mantle, this was followed by isostatic readjustment of the remaining crust. Our study details how lithospheric delamination exerts an important control on crustal deformation and that its crustal signature and geomorphic imprint can be preserved for millions of years.