Normal faulting in the forearc of the Hellenic subduction margin: Paleoearthquake history and kinematics of the Spili Fault, Crete, Greece

Vasiliki Mouslopoulou, Daniel Moraetis, Lucilla Benedetti, Valery Guillou, Olivier Bellier, Dionisis Hristopulos

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14 Citations (Scopus)


The late-Cenozoic kinematic and late-Pleistocene paleoearthquake history of the Spili Fault is examined using slip-vector measurements and in situ cosmogenic (36Cl) dating, respectively. The Spili Fault appears to have undergone at least three successive but distinct phases of extension since Messinian (~7Ma), with the most recent faulting resulting in the exhumation of its carbonate plane for a fault-length of ~20km. Earthquake-slip and age data show that the lower 9m of the Spili Fault plane were exhumed during the last ~16,500 years through a minimum of five large-magnitude (Mw>6) earthquakes. The timing between successive paleoearthquakes varied by more than one order of magnitude (from 800 to 9000 years), suggesting a highly variable earthquake recurrence interval during late Pleistocene (CV=1). This variability resulted to significant fluctuations in the displacement rate of the Spili Fault, with the millennium rate (3.5mm/yr) being about six times faster than its late-Pleistocene rate (0.6mm/yr). The observed variability in the slip-size of the paleoearthquakes is, however, significantly smaller (CV=0.3). These data collectively suggest that the Spili Fault is one of the fastest moving faults in the forearc of the Hellenic subduction margin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-308
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
Publication statusPublished - 2014



  • Cosmogenic dating
  • Crete
  • Limestone scarp
  • Normal fault
  • Paleoearthquakes
  • Spili fault

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology

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