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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: May 2012

6 - Africa, Arabia, and Western Europe



The Africa Plate is probably the best-preserved fragment of the former supercontinent, Pangea. Because it is surrounded on three sides (west, south, and east) by sea-floor spreading centers and is split in two by the East African Rift Valleys, the Africa Plate is growing. Only on the north is its boundary with structures around the Mediterranean Sea more complex, including a convergent margin with reverse faults, folds, and large earthquakes in Algeria and Morocco, and remnants of Neotethyan oceanic crust, part of the Africa Plate, being subducted in the central and eastern Mediterranean.

I have included in this chapter a description of the Arabia Plate east of the Red Sea, another part of Pangea with many similarities to Africa, with spreading centers to the west and south. The northern margin of Arabia is colliding with Eurasia along the Bitlis Suture and Palmyride fold belt in Iraq, Turkey, and Syria, and the Zagros Mountains of Iran and Iraq. That continental collision results in structures and earthquakes that are described in the following chapter, as is the Dead Sea transform fault (DST), the boundary between the Arabia and Africa plates north of the Red Sea.

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