Cyprus The Ophiolite


Geologically, Cyprus is an ophiolite, which rose out of the sea more than 20 million years ago, due to a collision of the European and African tectonic plates. The Troodos mountains, which stretch across much of the central and west regions of Cyprus, are the location of one of the world’s finest examples of an ophiolite complex, where ocean floor crust has become part of a land mass. It was the slowing of this process that left the rock formations intact, while later erosion uncovered the magma chamber underneath, that gave geologists the ability to view the intact rocks and petrified pillow lava.

Geologists flock from around the world to observe the multi-coloured rock formations in this area, which was first brought to the world’s attention by geologist Ian Graham Gass, who in the 1960s sparked a scientific revolution changing static Geology into a dynamic Earth Science, by showing that the Troodos was a remnant of seafloor spreading. This discovery by Gass is considered a pivotal point in the theory of sea floor spreading, and this ensures that the Troodos ophiolite, which is already the most complete and studied othiolite in the world, will always be of immense geological interest to the scientific research community. The Troodos ophiolite also contributes significantly to the island’s water resources, since most of the rocks are excellent aquifers, which are feed by the perennial rivers running around the periphery of the mountains.

The Geology of the Troodos Ophiolite

The Troodos ophiolite which forms the core of the island’s geology, is evident in two regions of Cyprus. The main mass can be seen in the Troodos mountain range and the evidence can also be found south of the mountains in the Limassol and Akapnou Forests. The ophiolite is typical in its elongated domal shape and was formed in the Upper Cretaceous period on the Tethys Ocean floor, an ocean between the continents of Laurasia and Gondwana during the majority of the Mesozoic era, before the opening of the Atlantic and Indian oceans during the Cretaceous period.

This oceanic crust consists of plutonic, intrusive and volcanic rocks, as well as chemical sediments. Its stratigraphic completeness is what makes it so unique and of particular interest to geologists. The ophiolite was created during the complex process of oceanic spreading and formation of oceanic crust, and was emerged and placed in its present position as a result of the collision of two tectonic plates. The stratigraphy of the Troodos ophiolite illustrates a topographic inversion, where the lower suites of rocks outcrop in the highest points of the range, while the upper rocks appear at the edges of the ophiolite. This is due to the way the ophiolite was diapirically uplifted and its subsequent differential erosion.

Visiting the Troodos

While significant to geologists, the Troodos region is also popular with hikers, climbers and mountain bikers. Pine covered hills and picturesque villages attract visitors who want to escape the heat of the coastal areas and enjoy a tranquil day soaking up traditional Cypriot culture. In the winter (mid January to mid March) the area attracts skiers to its Aphrodite, Hera, Hermes and Zeus ski areas.

This interesting article about Cyprus was given by medwelcome

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