Preparing the ground for plateau growth: Late Neogene Central Anatolian uplift in the context of orogenic and geodynamic evolution since the Cretaceous

Peter J. McPhee*, Ayten Koç, Douwe J.J. van Hinsbergen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Central Anatolia (Turkey) is a small and nascent example of a high orogenic plateau, providing a natural laboratory to study processes driving plateau rise. The 1-km-high plateau interior uplifted since c. 8–5 Ma, with a further phase of kilometre-scale uplift affecting the southern plateau margin since 0.45 Ma. Several causes of plateau rise have been proposed: peeling or dripping delamination of the lithospheric mantle; asthenospheric upwelling through slab gaps created by slab fragmentation or break-off, and; continental underthrusting and crustal shortening below the southern plateau margin. The Neogene history of the plateau has not been diagnostic of the causes of plateau rise. We thus evaluate proposed uplift causes in the context of the Anatolian orogenesis, which formed the plateau lithosphere during subduction since the Cretaceous. We combine this analysis with available constraints on uplift, and geophysical data that illuminate the modern mantle (and crustal) structure. Our analysis suggests that lithospheric dripping, which followed arc magmatism and shortening in the Kirsehir Block (eastern Central Anatolia), is the most likely cause of plateau interior uplift. Lithospheric dripping is, however, an unlikely sole driver of multi-phase uplift along the southern plateau margin. There, underthrusting of the African continental margin, recorded by c. 11–7 Ma thrusting on Cyprus, is a viable cause of uplift since 0.45 Ma, but cannot account for earlier uplift since c. 8–5 Ma. Instead, slab break-off below the southern plateau margin is likely in light of geophysical data. On the SW plateau margin, small-scale peeling delamination of the Central Taurides by the Antalya slab since early Miocene times accounts for >150 km slab retreat with no corresponding upper-plate deformation. A southwest-travelling wave of subsidence and uplift signalled this retreat and may have contributed to coeval oroclinal bending of the western Central Taurides and southeastward thrusting of the Lycian Nappes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number229131
Pages (from-to)1-22
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2022


  • Central Anatolian plateau
  • Lithospheric dripping
  • Orogenesis
  • Peeling delamination
  • Plateau uplift
  • Subduction evolution
  • Tectonic reconstruction


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