Rock-uplift history of the Central Pontides from river-profile inversions and implications for development of the North Anatolian Fault

Simone Racano*, Taylor Schildgen, Paolo Ballato, Cengiz Yıldırım, Hella Wittmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Major strike-slip fault systems on Earth, like the North Anatolian Fault (NAF), play an important role in accommodating plate motion, but surprisingly little is known about how such structures evolve through space and time. Along the central sector of the NAF in the Central Pontides, transpression and crustal thickening along the northward restraining bend of the fault are thought to have generated rock-uplift rates of 0.2–0.3 km/Myr since at least 400 ka based on Quaternary marine and river terraces, while data from low-temperature thermochronology suggest that an enhanced exhumation phase occurred within the last 11 Myr. However, the precise onset of this faster uplift phase, which likely reflects deformation associated with the development of the central sector of the NAF, is poorly constrained. Here we define the spatiotemporal pattern of rock-uplift rates within the Central Pontides over the last ∼10 Myr by performing linear inversions of 19 river profiles that drain the northern margin of the Central Pontides, from the Sinop Range to the Black Sea. We use 21 new 10Be-derived basin-average denudation rates to calibrate an erodibility parameter, which we use to convert our χ-transformed river profiles into rock-uplift histories. Our results document an increase in rock-uplift rates after 10 Ma, with peak rates of ∼0.15–0.25 km/Myr occurring between 4 and 2 Ma. Moreover, the spatiotemporal pattern of uplift suggests that faster rock uplift started in the eastern part of the Sinop Range and migrated westward over a period of ca. 2 to 2.5 Myr, which we relate to the westward propagation of the NAF through this sector at a rate of 74 ± 13 km/Myr. In the context of previously published constraints on the westward propagation of the NAF starting in eastern Turkey at ∼12 Ma, our results suggest differences in fault-propagation rates that coincide with differences in the orientation of the NAF relative to plate-convergence velocity vectors. Fault segments with higher obliquity appear to have propagated at rates up to 2-fold slower than those oriented more parallel to the plate-convergence vector.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118231
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier B.V.


This study was started as part of the Anatolian Plateau Climate and Tectonic Hazards (ALErT) project, funded by the European Union Marie Curie Actions “Innovative Training Networks” program (FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN, grant agreement 607996 ). We thank Görkem Sivri for help with field work and sample processing. PB was supported by the MIUR (Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research ) through the Excellence Department Initiative (Art. 1, com. 314-337, Low 232/2016) and the PRIN 2017-2020 funding scheme (project: Geodynamics of the Arabia-Eurasia collisional zones, PI C. Faccenna, grant number 20177BX42Z ).

FundersFunder number
Anatolian Plateau Climate and Tectonic Hazards
European Union Marie Curie Actions607996
Excellence Department Initiative20177BX42Z, 314-337
Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca


    • Be denudation rates
    • Central Pontides
    • North Anatolian Fault
    • river-profile inversion


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