Geology - Structural Geology

Geological Evolution of Tethys Domains and Surroundings Since the Late Palaeozoic



  Mr Eric Barrier (NCOC, Astana, Kazakhstan)


  1 day


  Geology – Structural Geology






  5 CPD points




Course description

This course describes the tectono-sedimentary and geodynamic evolution of the Tethys and Peri-Tethys domains, including the basics, platforms and orogenic belts that developed since the Late Paleozoic (post Hercynian evolution). The investigated region includes Northeastern Africa, Near East, the whole Middle East, Caucasus and Western Central Asia. The complex geological history of this vast region results from: the closure of the Palaeozoic Paleo-Tethys ocean, the opening of the Neo-Tethys domain initiating, in the Late Palaeozoic, and then of the progressive closure of the Neo-Tethys oceanic domain that lasted until Present. During the Mesozoic-Cenozoic times, collisions of blocks with the Tethyan continental margins have succeeded resulting in several orogenies controlling the tectonic and stratigraphic evolution of the basins and platforms surrounding the Tethys oceanic domain.

In this course, the regional evolution is integrated into a geodynamic and kinematic context of the openings and closures of the oceanic Paleo- and then Neo-Tethys domains. One of the main objectives is to understand the tectonic and stratigraphic evolution of the continental Peri-Tethys basins and platforms. A particular focus is cast on the relationships between tectonic and sedimentation in the basins that developed in these continental domains.

While the geological history of the main basins and belts are described and discussed at length, the origin and evolution of the major sedimentary basins are more particularly described (timing, rifting, subsidence, inversion, sedimentology, environment, sedimentation). The relationships between the main kinematic changes and the major regional tectonic events are debated.

This course integrates the most recent data from research projects and literature. It includes several case studies and paleo tectonic maps, reconstructions, figures, diagrams and pictures.

The course is divided into 6 parts dealing chronologically and regionally with:

  1. Palinspastic reconstructions and Kinematics evolution; limit of the method;
  2. Late Palaeozoic evolution featuring the accretion of northern Pangea;
  3. Triassic-Jurassic Cimmerian blocks and tectonics;
  4. Mesozoic evolution of the active northern and passive southern;
  5. Tethys margins and Peri-Tethyan platforms and basins; and
  6. Cenozoic collisions of Africa, India and Arabia with the southern Eurasian margin; the Alpine tectonics.

For each major period, the tectono-stratigraphic evolution is illustrated by a palaeotectonic map depicting the tectonic, stratigraphic, kinematic and environmental contexts. 20 palaeotectonic reconstructions supporting the course are proposed from the Middle Permian to the Pliocene.

Finally, the participants of the course will gain a large knowledge of the geological evolution of the Tethys and surrounding domains during the last 300 My.


Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, participants will:

  • have a clear overview of the geological and geodynamic evolution of the Peri-Tethys continental domain (platforms, basins, and orogenic belts) and Tethys Ocean during the last 300 My from Northeastern Africa and Hellenides-Balkanides in west to western Central Asia in the east;
  • have a synthetic view of the tectono-stratigraphic evolution of the main basins, margins, platforms, and orogenic belts of the studied domain;
  • be able to correlate the tectonic and/or stratigraphic of the basins and orogenic belts of this domain with the major regional geodynamic and kinematic events;
  • consider the palinspastic reconstructions proposed in the scientific literature with a critical eye and understand the limits of the methods of reconstructions.


Course outline

The course is divided into 6 parts. Except the first one, dealing with the methods of palinspastic reconstructions and kinematics, the other parts describe the regional tectono-stratigraphic evolution following a chronological order.

Part 1. Palinspastic reconstructions and Kinematics.

In the first part, the methods of palinspastic and paleogeographic reconstructions are presented. The limits of these methods are discussed and the palinspastic reconstructions are considered with a critical eye. This part includes a reminder of the main kinematic concepts used in reconstructions. More particularly, we distinguish the well determined kinematic data from poorly constrained data. Several present-day geodynamic configurations classically used in reconstructions are studied;

Part 2. Accretion of northern Pangea during the Late Palaeozoic.

Pangea results from the accretion of several continental blocks that ended during the Permian. This event constitutes the major tectonic phase in Central Asia where the Late Palaeozoic sutures and orogenic belts mark the whole domain. The Palaeozoic sequences, particularly well exposed in Tien-Shan, are described. The study of their stratigraphy allow to well constrain the timing of deformation;

Part 3. Triassic-Jurassic Cimmerian tectonics.

The Cimmerian orogenic events results from the collision, and then accretion, of Gondwanian continental blocks with the southern margin of Northern Pangea. The study of the Cimmerian period includes the different tectonics that initiated with the Late Palaeozoic rifting of the Cimmerian blocks in northern Gondwana, followed by the northward drift of these blocks through the Paleo-Tethys domain, and finally by their Mid-Triassic to Early Jurassic collision with Northern Pangea. It is showed that these Cimmerian collisions strongly control the tectonic and sedimentology of the northern Peri-Thetys margins during the Triassic-Jurassic period;

Part 4. Mesozoic evolution of the northern Peri-Tethys basins and platforms and of the active northern Tethys margin.

The Mesozoic period is characterized in the Tethys domain by a strong contrast between the northern and southern margins, respectively active and passive. The active northern margin displays a complex polyphased tectonic evolution where alternated opening of back-arc basins (e.g. South Caspian, Black Sea basins) and periods of basin inversions. We evidence that these periods of basin opening and inversion are related to the evolution of the northward subduction of Neo-Tethys oceanic lithosphere beneath the southern Eurasian margin;

Part 5. Mesozoic evolution of the southern Peri-Tethys basins and platforms are of the passice southern Tethys margin.

This domain, that includes the present NE African and Arabian plate margins and platforms shows a homogeneous Mesozoic evolution mainly marked by openings of the Triassic-Jurassic intra-continental basins and the Late Cretaceous obduction of the Neo-Tethyan ophiolites onto the Arabian Platform. This latter major tectonic event widely controls the sedimentation in the NE Arabian margin during the Senonian times. The problem of the Tethyan obductions is presented and debated.

Part 6. Cenozoic collisions of Africa, India and Arabia with the southern Eurasian margin.

The last part of the course deals with the Cenozoic alpine tectonics when the Africa-Arabia and Indian plates collided with the southern Eurasian margin. These large-scale continent-continent collisions are associated with major orogenies and basin inversions. In Paleogene the collisions initiated with the diachronous closure of the remnant Tethys oceanic domains. Finally, during the Neogene the continent-continent collisions dominated and the main orogenic belts developed in the Alps, Carpathian, Pontides, Taurides, Caucasus, Alborz, Zagros, Pamir, Tien-Shan, Tibet and Himalaya orogenic belts. During the Neogene the changes in the kinematic of the collisions were mainly controlled by the gradual disappearance of the Mesozoic marginal basins.


Participants' profile

Any geoscientists working, or interested in the geological evolution of the Peri-Tethys continental domains and more particularly in the North East Africa, Near East, Middle East and Central Asia geology. The course may more particularly concern petroleum geologists (junior and senior) working in basin analysis. Participants should have classical basic knowledge in geodynamics, kinematics, tectonics and sedimentology-stratigraphy.



Participants should have classical basic knowledge in geodynamics, kinematics, tectonics and sedimentology-stratigraphy.


About the instructor

Eric Barrier is a senior Research Geologist at the French CNRS. He currently works at the University Pierre & Marie Curie (Paris, France) He graduated from this University in 1979 where he specialized in brittle tectonic analysis. His research interests include regional tectonic evolution, palinspastic reconstruction and seismotectonic. He conducts researches in Southeast Asia, Middle America and since the 1980's in North Africa, Near East, Middle East and Central Asia. Between 2001 and 2007, he was co-leader of the Middle East Basins Evolution Programme, and then leader of the DARIUS Programme (2009-2014), both international consortiums sponsored by Oil companies and research organizations. In 2008 he published an atlas of Palaeotectonic maps of the Middle East. In 2016, under the DARIUS Programme, he completed an atlas of 20 palaeotectonic and palinspastic maps (from Middle Permian to Pliocene) covering a large area extending from NE Africa-Hellenides-Balkanides to the west to Central Asia to the East.


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