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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Seyrek, A., Demir, T., Pringle, M., Yurtmen, S., Westaway, R., Bridgland, D., Beck, A.R. & Rowbotham, G. Late Cenozoic uplift of the Amanos Mountains and incision of the Middle Ceyhan river gorge, southern Turkey Ar–Ar dating of the Düziçi basalt. Geomorphology. 2008;97:321-355.

Author(s) from Durham


Using the Ar–Ar technique, we have obtained the first numerical dates for the Pleistocene volcanism along the valley of the River Ceyhan in the Düziçi area of southern Turkey, in the western foothills of the Amanos Mountains. Our six dates indicate a single abrupt episode of volcanism at ∼ 270 ka. We have identified a staircase of 7 fluvial terraces, at altitudes of up to ∼ 230 m above the present level of the Ceyhan. Using the disposition of the basalt as an age constraint, we assign these terraces to cold-climate stages between marine oxygen isotope stages 16 and 2, indicating rates of fluvial incision, equated to surface uplift, that increase upstream through the western foothills of this mountain range at between 0.25 and 0.4 mm a− 1. Extrapolation of these uplift rates into the axis of the range suggests that the entire ∼ 2300 m of present-day relief has developed since the Mid-Pliocene, a view that we confirm using numerical modelling. Since ∼ 3.7 Ma the Amanos Mountains have formed a transpressive stepover along the northern part of the Dead Sea Fault Zone, where crustal shortening is required by the geometry. Using a physics-based technique, we have modelled the overall isostatic response to the combination of processes occurring, including crustal thickening caused by the shortening, erosion caused by orographic precipitation, and the resulting outward flow of mobile lower-crustal material, in order to predict the resulting history of surface uplift. This modelling suggests that the effective viscosity of the lower crust in this region is in the range ∼ 1–2 × 1019 Pa s, consistent with a Moho temperature of ∼ 590 ± 10 °C, the latter value being in agreement with heat flow data. This modelling shows that the nature of the active crustal deformation is now understood, to first order at least, in this key locality within the boundary zone between the African and Arabian plates, the structure and geomorphology of which have been fundamentally misunderstood in the past.

Department of Geography