Total Shortening Estimates Across the Western Greater Caucasus Mountains from Balanced Cross Sections and Area Balancing

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Charles Trexler
Eric Cowgill
Dylan Vasey
Nathan Niemi


The Greater Caucasus orogen forms the northern edge of the Arabia-Eurasia collision zone. Although the orogen has long been assumed to exhibit dominantly thick-skinned style deformation via reactivation of high-angle extensional faults, recent work suggests the range may have accommodated several hundred kilometers or more of shortening since its ~30 Ma initiation, and this shortening may be accommodated via thin-skinned, imbricate fan-style deformation associated with underthrusting and/or subduction. However, robust shortening estimates based upon surface geologic observations are lacking. Here we present line-length and area balanced cross sections along two transects across the western Greater Caucasus that provide minimum shortening estimates of 130-200 km. These cross sections demonstrate that a thin-skinned structural style provides a viable explanation for the structure of the Greater Caucasus, and highlight major structures that may accommodate additional, but unconstrained, shortening.

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Trexler, C., Cowgill, E., Vasey, D., & Niemi, N. (2023). Total Shortening Estimates Across the Western Greater Caucasus Mountains from Balanced Cross Sections and Area Balancing. τeκτoniκa, 1(2), 198–208.


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