GEOLOGICA CARPATHICA, 53, 1, BRATISLAVA, FEBRUARY 2002
37 — 44
POSITION OF THE MIDDLE TRIASSIC TYROS BEDS IN THE
(RHODES ISLAND, DODECANESE, GREECE)
, GEORGE DANAMOS
, EMMANOUIL SKOURTSOS
University of Athens, Department of Geology, Panepistimioupoli, 15784 Athens, Greece; firstname.lastname@example.org
National Center Marine Research, Fleming 14, Vari, Greece
(Manuscript received January 3, 2001; accepted in revised form December 13, 2001)
Abstract: We describe a Middle Triassic volcano-sedimentary sequence, which outcrops on Rhodes Island at the south-
eastern edge of the Aegean Arc. The sequence is tectonically overlain by the Mesozoic calcareous platform of the local
Archangelos Unit. The latter is regarded as equivalent to the Gavrovo-Tripolis Unit of mainland Greece and Crete. We
propose that the volcano-sedimentary sequence described here is homologue to the Tyros Beds of Peloponnesus or the
Ravdoucha Beds of Crete, which mark the stratigraphic base of the Gavrovo-Tripolis calcareous platform. Consequently
we suggest that Tyros Beds characterize the base of the Gavrovo-Tripolis Unit all along the southern Hellenic Arc, from
Peloponnesus through Kythira and Crete to Rhodes Island.
Key words: Middle Triassic, Hellenides, Gavrovo-Tripolis Unit, Tyros Beds, volcanoclastic sedimentation.
The Hellenic Arc is a multi-phase orogenic structure charac-
terized mainly by extended nappes and thrust sheets. The
present distribution of the various tectonic units (Hellenides)
is the result of two successive orogenic phases, the Eohellenic
phase in the Late Jurassic—Early Cretaceous and the Alpine
phase in Late Eocene—Early Miocene. The imprint of the Eo-
hellenic phase on some of the Hellenides has been used to dis-
tinguish them in Internal, which have been affected by that
phase, and External, which have not been affected.
The paleogeographical distribution of the Hellenides has
been for a long time and still is a matter of controversy among
geologists, while the number of oceanic sutures still remains
obscure (Robertson & Dixon 1984; Dercourt et al. 1986; Pa-
panikolaou 1989). The correlation of the tectonic units, which
outcrop in continental Greece with similar units outcropping
on the Aegean islands, is another weak point in the geological
interpretation of the Alpine structure. Recently new aspects on
the paleogeographical organization of the Hellenides in the
Late Paleozoic—Early Triassic came to light (Stampfli et al.
1998). The main question for that period is whether the vari-
ous Triassic volcano-sedimentary sequences, which occur in
the lower part of the lithostratigraphic columns of several tec-
tonic units, represent passive margin volcanism and are related
to the opening of Tethys or they are related to older consuming
Rhodes Island is located at the southeastern edge of the Hel-
lenic Arc (Fig. 1) and is characterized by a rather complicated
Alpine geotectonic structure. Although numerous geologists
have worked on the island since the beginning of the 20
tury, fundamental aspects of the Alpine structure of Rhodes
still remain obscure. The number and the origin of the Alpine
units, the time span covered by their litho-stratigraphic col-
umns, the tectonic relation between them as well as their cor-
relation with similar units occurring in continental Greece and
Crete are still a matter of debate. Consequently, the role of the
Alpine units of Rhodes Island in the paleogeographical config-
uration of the Hellenides is not well understood.
In the present paper we describe a volcano-sedimentary se-
quence of Middle to Late Triassic age and we attempt to corre-
late it with known and geodynamically equivalent volcano-
sedimentary sequences of the External Hellenides.
Geotectonic structure of Rhodes Island
Thick Neogene sedimentary sequences have been deposited
in large, fault-controlled basins created during the post-Alpine
period. The Alpine rocks built up mainly the mountainous ar-
eas of the island, which are surrounded by low relief areas
covered by post-Alpine sediments (Fig. 2).
According to most of the researchers, the metamorphic Lin-
dos Unit is the lowermost tectonic unit outcropping on Rhodes
Island (Aubouin & Dercourt 1970) (Fig. 2). It is composed of
dark bluish marbles, which develop upwards to thin-bedded
marbles and ends with a metaflysch. The transition from cal-
careous sedimentation to flysch deposition occurs in late
Eocene—Early Oligocene (Leboulenger & Matesco 1975). The
geotectonic position of the Lindos Unit within the Hellenides
is a matter of controversy among the various researchers.
Some support its correlation either with the Ionian (or the Plat-
tenkalk) Unit (Pozzi & Orombelli 1965; Leboulenger &
Matesco 1975; Papanikolaou et al. 1995). Others, as Mutti et
al. (1970) and Aubouin & Dercourt (1970) regard it as equiva-
lent of the Preapulian Unit, because of its contents in shallow
Lindos Unit is overlain by a mélange-type formation, which
consists of pelites, clays, sandstones and bioclastic or con-
glomeratic limestone. Exotic blocks of volcanic rocks, pelagic
38 LEKKAS et al.
and brecciated limestones are included within this formation.
The age of the formation, which is known as “Laerma wild
flysch” (Papanikolaou et al. 1995), is Early Oligocene (Mutti
et al. 1970).
Attavyros-Akramites Unit is the lowest among the alloch-
thon units, which overlie the Laerma wild flysch (Fig. 2). The
succession of the litho- and biofacies of this unit is very simi-
lar to those of the Ionian Unit in continental Greece and Crete
Island (Renz 1929; Renz 1955; Orombelli & Pozzi 1967; Mut-
ti et al. 1970; Aubouin & Dercourt 1970; Leboulenger &
Matesco 1975). On the contrary, Harbury & Hall (1988) sup-
port a paleogeographical position of the Attavyros-Akramites
Unit between the Gavrovo-Tripolis platform and the Pindos
The Archangelos Unit is constituted of a thick sequence of
massive to thick-bedded limestone and dolomites of Late Tri-
assic—Early Eocene age and Middle—Late Eocene flysch (Mut-
ti et al. 1970; Leboulenger & Matesco 1975). Like the previ-
ous unit, the Archangelos Unit overlies tectonically the
Laerma wild flysch (Papanikolaou et al. 1995) (Fig. 2). Renz
(1929, 1955) considered that it corresponds to the Parnassos-
Giona Unit of continental Greece, though Orombelli & Pozzi
(1967) suggested a paleogeographical position near the Gavro-
vo Zone. On the contrary Aubouin & Dercourt (1970), Lebou-
lenger & Matesco (1975) and Papanikolaou et al. (1995) corre-
spond the Archangelos Unit with Gavrovo-Tripolis Unit, be-
cause of its tectonic position below the Profitis Ilias Unit
(equivalent of the Pindos Unit), and the Eocene age of the up-
permost horizons of its calcareous sequence.
The Profitis Ilias Unit is constituted exclusively of pelagic
sediments, like thin-bedded limestones with silex, red marls and
red radiolarites of Late Triassic—Early Cretaceous age (Mutti et
al. 1970), and corresponds undoubtedly to the Pindos Unit.
The uppermost nappe on the island of Rhodes is constituted
of ophiolite rocks. According to Aubouin & Dercourt (1970),
Leboulenger & Matesco (1975) and Papanikolaou et al.
(1995), they tectonically overlie the Profitis Ilias Unit. Mutti et
al. (1970) on the contrary believe, that the ophiolites are tec-
tonically intercalated between the Archangelos Unit below
and the Profitis Ilias Unit above. These ophiolite outcrops
have been interpreted as remnants either of the Vardar—Axios
oceanic basin (Aubouin & Dercourt 1970), or of the Pindos
oceanic basin (Papanikolaou et al. 1995).
As mentioned above, the dominant hypothesis in the exist-
ing literature favours the correlation of the Archangelos Unit
with the Gavrovo-Tripolis Unit of continental Greece. The
correlation of these two stratigraphically and tectonically simi-
lar units is strongly supported by the occurrence of a volcano-
Fig. 1. a – Simplified geotectonic map of the Southern Aegean region (after Jacobshagen 1986) showing the geographical distribution
of the main tectonic units of the External Hellenides. The Preapulian Unit constitutes the foreland of the Hellenides. Tripali and Asterous-
sia Units occur only in western and central Crete respectively. The Phyllite-Quartzite Unit is a Permo-Triassic sequence tectonically em-
placed between the Plattenkalk and Tripolis Units, and is regarded by most authors as the metamorphic equivalent of the Tyros Beds. The
tectonic relationship between the main Units is shown in figure 1b.
GEODYNAMIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TYROS-BEDS ON RHODES ISLAND 39
sedimentary sequence at the base of the platform of Archange-
los Unit, which is very similar to the Tyros Beds.
Tectonic position and lithostratigraphy of the
Archangelos volcano-sedimentary sequence
Although the outcrop of the Archangelos volcano-sedimen-
tary sequence, southwest of the village with the same name,
has been very early reported by Migliorini & Venzo (1934) and
Mutti et al. (1970), its paleogeographical position and geody-
namic significance remained obscure.
Mutti et al. (1970) mention the presence of limestone beds
alternating with brown-green pelites on the slopes of the Mt
Karavos near Archangelos village. The thickness of the forma-
tion is barely 20 m. The authors also note that the lower con-
tact of the sequence to the calcareous beds of the Archangelos
Unit is faulted, while the upper one is characterized as normal
stratigraphic contact. Within this formation they determine
Diplopora sp., Balanocidaris scrobiculata (Bronn), Stefaninia
cf. ogilviae (Bittn.) and Mytilus sp. and ascribe it to Carnian.
The stratigraphically lower horizons of the Archangelos
Unit, which contain the volcano-sedimentary formation, out-
crop on the eastern slope of Mt Karavos, 500—600 m south-
west of the Archangelos village, in the central eastern part of
Rhodes Island (Figs. 3, 4a). They are tectonically emplaced in-
between calcareous sediments of the Archangelos carbonate
platform and are partly covered transgressionally by Quaterna-
ry coastal deposits (Fig. 3a,b). The profile presented below has
been described and studied along the road climbing the eastern
slope of Mt Karavos (Fig. 4a).
The strata of the sequence strike NW-SE and dip SW-wards
with 40°—70° (Fig. 4a,b). They lie tectonically on white to
pinkish, thick bedded or massive, micritic to microbreccia and
dolomitic limestones of the Archangelos Unit. The age of the
calcareous sediments remains unknown, since no fossils were
found but on the basis of their sedimentary character we as-
cribe them to the Upper Triassic—Lower Middle Jurassic.
The volcano-sedimentary formation itself is overlain tecton-
ically by white to pinkish, 1—1.5 m thick-bedded, microbrecci-
ated or endomicritic limestones, which contain angular and
rounded limestone clasts and dip NE-wards (Figs. 3a,b, 4a,c).
Mutti et al. (1970) have found echinoid spines, bivalves, and
Dasycladaceae within these calcareous sediments. Corals,
Cladocoropsis mirabilis (Felix), echinoid spines, octracods,
Frondicularia sp., Trocholina sp. and many other fossils have
also been reported from younger horizons of the same forma-
tion located at a small distance to the east of the main outcrop.
Description of the profile
The volcano-sedimentary formation near Archangelos vil-
lage has the following litho-stratigraphy from the stratigraphi-
cally lower to the higher levels (Fig. 3c).
a. The stratigraphically lower horizons are composed of al-
ternations of pelites and tuffs with rare intercalations of sand-
stone and limestone horizons. Green and pink layers or round-
ed bodies of igneous rocks, as well as foliated and strongly
altered pillow lavas are usually observed within the clastic
sediments. Quartz, plagioclase, green amphibole, chlorite and
opaque minerals have been observed in thin sections from the
volcanoclastic, tuff layers. Mineralogical analysis of thin sec-
tions from the lava layers and rounded bodies revealed andes-
itic to diabasic composition with diopside phenocrystals flow-
ing within microlithic matrix composed of plagioclase,
chlorite, epidote, calcite and opaque minerals. The sandstone
and limestone horizons become more abundant toward the
higher stratigraphic levels. The calcareous layers are endo-
biomicritic to bioclastic limestones and contain fragments of
algae, echinoderms and corals. Their thickness does not ex-
ceed 40 cm. The total thickness of this part of the sequence
reaches 250—300 m. This formation overlies tectonically mas-
sive and thick-bedded dolomitic limestones of unknown age.
b. Upwards follows a 4—5 m thick sequence of yellowish
sandstones and pelites within which greenish tuffs and grey,
brecciated limestone beds of 10—12 cm thickness are interca-
lated. The limestone beds become thicker (up to 40—50 cm)
upwards and contain fragments of algae and echinoid spines.
Large calcareous clasts of up to 1.5 m in diameter have been
deposited within the clastic sediments.
c. Alternations of thin green-grey pelites and yellow-grey-
ish limestones of 15 m total thickness follow. The thickness of
the limestone horizons increases towards the top of the se-
quence from 1—15 cm to 10—30 cm. They are microbrecciated
and contain fragments of corals and bryozoa, unilinear fora-
minifers, algae and crinoides (Encrinus liliiformis) of Middle
Triassic age. At the top of the sequence, a 30 cm thick micro-
breccia to bioclastic limestone horizon contains coral frag-
ments, bryozoa, crinoides (Encrinus liliiformis), algae
Fig. 2. Simplified geotectonic map of Rhodes Island according to
Papanikolaou et al. (1995). See text for explanation and their cor-
relation with the units of Fig. 1.
40 LEKKAS et al.
(Diplopora sp.), foraminifers and echinoid spines of the Mid-
dle Triassic (Fig. 4d).
d. Thickness 30—32 m. Limestones and pelites with rare in-
tercalations of 20—40 cm thick green tuffs and 12—15 cm thick
yellow sandstones. Two facies of limestone horizons have
been observed within this sequence. The first one corresponds
to grey micritic limestones of 1—6 cm thickness, containing
echinoid spines. The second facies corresponds to brecciated
bioclastic limestone horizons of 10—40 cm thickness with
some algae fragments and recrystallized coral fragments.
e. Thickness 5 m. Limestones with rare intercalations of
green and yellow pelites. The thickness of the individual cal-
careous beds reaches 60 cm.
f. 1 m thick green pelites and tuffs.
g. Thickness 45 m. Alternations of up to 1 m thick limestone
beds with up to 30—35 cm thick pelites and yellow to green
tuffitic horizons with rare intercalations of sandstones. The
brecciated limestone layers contain big fragments of crinoides
(Encrinus liliiformis), recrystallized algae fragments,
(Diplopora sp.), rounded and angular micritic pebbles and bry-
ozoa. Their age is Middle Triassic.
h. Thickness 10 m. Alternations of 5—25 cm thick limestone
beds and 5—10 cm thick pelitic horizons. The micritic facies
become more rare.
The upper contact of that series to the overlying limestones
of the Archangelos platform is of tectonic origin. The contact
Fig. 3. a – Geological map of the area southwest of Archangelos village. See Fig. 2 for location. b – Geological cross-section A—A´. c –
Stratigraphic column of the Archangelos volcano-sedimentary sequence. See “Description of the profile” for explanations on a—h.
GEODYNAMIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TYROS-BEDS ON RHODES ISLAND 41
at the southern part of the outcrop dips relatively steeply while
at the eastern and western part it becomes subhorizontal and
crosscuts the stratigraphic horizons of the underlying volcano-
sedimentary sequence (Figs. 3a,b, 4a).
Up to now the Archangelos Unit was regarded by most re-
searchers as equivalent to the Gavrovo-Tripolis Unit mainly
because of the following two aspects: (a) the age of the Arch-
angelos Unit calcareous sequence, which is compatible to the
continuous Late Triassic—Upper Eocene calcareous sedimenta-
tion of the Gavrovo-Tripolis shallow water platform and (b)
the tectonic position of the Archangelos Unit below the pelag-
ic unit of Profitis Ilias, which is attributed by almost all re-
searchers to the Pindos Unit.
The new data presented in this work support that hypothesis.
We suggest, that the above-described volcano-sedimentary se-
quence of the Archangelos Unit is equivalent to the lower part
of the litho-stratigraphic column of the Gavrovo-Tripolis Unit,
meaning the Tyros Beds in the Peloponnesus or their equiva-
lent Ravdoucha Beds in Crete Island.
Our hypothesis is supported by a) the lithological similarity
between the Archangelos volcano-sedimentary sequence and
the Tyros Beds; b) the age of the sequence, which has been
also reported from several places in Peloponnesus and Crete
for the upper part of the Tyros Beds and c) the tectonic posi-
tion of the sequence below the Archangelos Unit carbonate
platform, similar to the position of Tyros Beds below the
The Upper Paleozoic—Lower Triassic volcano-sedimentary
formation at the base of the Gavrovo-Tripolis shallow plat-
form was recognized very early (Ktenas 1926) and repeatedly
described since then. The Tyros Beds are characterized by a
lower clastic formation and an upper volcano-sedimentary se-
quence (Fig. 5) (Skarpelis 1982). The lower part is constituted
of pelites and sandstones, that often form turbite sequences
within which calcareous lenses intercalate. Carboniferous,
Permian and Early Triassic ages have been reported for the
lower part of the Tyros Beds (Ktenas 1926; Lys & Thiebault
1971; Panagos et al. 1979; Thiebault 1982).
The majority of the Tyros Beds outcrops in the Peloponne-
sus and Crete are dominated by the upper volcano-sedimentary
part. It is composed of lava horizons, pyroclastics, tuffs and
clastic and calcareous sediments that intercalate within volca-
no-sedimentary deposits (Skarpelis 1982). Numerous fossils
such as ostracods, echinoids, ammonites and conodonts, found
within the calcareous beds, are evidence of a Carnian—Norian
and in some places also Rhaetian age for the upper part of Ty-
ros Beds (Sannemann & Siedel 1976; Kopp & Ott 1977; Thie-
bault 1982; Brauer et al. 1980; Thorbecke 1987; Gerolymatos
Fig. 4. a – View of the Archangelos volcano-sedimentary sequence outcrop from the east. b – Alternation of brecciated limestones,
pelites, sandstones and tuff horizons. c – The tectonic contact between the Archangelos carbonate platform and the volcano-sedimentary
sequence. d – Encrinus lilliformis within brecciated limestone. The location of the pictures of Fig. 4b,c and d are shown in Fig. 4a.
42 LEKKAS et al.
Fig. 5. Schematic presentation of the geological evolution of the Tripolis Unit in the Late Carboniferous—Early Jurassic.
1994). According to the synthetic litho-stratigraphic columns
proposed by Gerolymatos (1994) and Dornsiepen & Manutso-
glu (1994) for the Tyros Beds, a stratigraphic hiatus occurs in
the Middle Triassic (Ladinian) (Fig. 5). It is possible that this
hiatus represents the limit between the lower, clastic formation
and the upper, volcano-sedimentary sequence of the Tyros
Beds (Fig. 5).
The continuous transition from the volcano-clastic sedi-
ments of the “Tyros Beds” to the Gavrovo-Tripolis platform
sedimentation has already been described from various places
in the Peloponnesus (Tataris & Maragoudakis 1967; Fytrolakis
1971; Lekkas & Papanikolaou 1978; Thiebault 1982) and
Crete (Kopp & Ott 1977; Bonneau & Karakitsios 1979; Fytro-
lakis 1980). This transition has usually been found to take
place in the Late Carnian—Rhaetian, while Lias age is also re-
ported by Alexopoulos (1990) in central Crete. Danamos
(1991, 1992) and Gerolymatos (1994) report a tectonic rela-
tionship between the underlying Tyros Beds and the overlying
shallow water carbonates. Consequently, we suggest that the
volcano-sedimentary Archangelos sequence may easily be
correlated with the upper part of the Tyros Beds.
There is a lot of incertitude regarding the origin of the Tyros
Beds and the geotectonic setting of the Triassic volcanism.
Thiebault (1982) & Thiebault et al. (1985) suggest that the
shoshonitic composition of the Tyros volcanites is related to a
rifting phase though Skarpelis (1982) and Pe-Piper (1982)
favour an above subduction zone character for the Tyros vol-
canism. Pe-Piper (1983a,b) notes the presence of tholeiites and
calcalkaline basalts, which may refer to an old subduction
zone, but describes also more alkaline types, which display
within-plate character. Therefore she suggested that the Trias-
sic volcanism occurred close to an old consuming plate bound-
ary and is also related to the initial stage of a back-arc rifting
process. Later the same author (Pe-Piper 1998) suggested, on
the basis of the geochemistry of Nd and Pb isotopes, that the
Triassic volcanisms are related to a general extension, which
affected the paleogeographical area of the Hellenides during
that period. Recently Stampfli et al. (1998) proposed that Ty-
ros Beds represent an accretionary prism created in front of the
subduction zone of the Paleotethys oceanic lithosphere below
the southern Eurasian margin.
Up to now there are no data from the volcanic rocks of the
Archangelos volcano-sedimentary sequence, which would al-
low us to support any of the proposed hypotheses regarding
the geotectonic setting of the Triassic volcanism. The presence
of pillow-lavas and the alternations described suggest a se-
quence rich in calcareous redeposits possibly deposited in
deep water conditions.
It is obvious, that a widespread volcanic activity occurred in
the Middle—Late Triassic within the paleogeographical area of
the Gavrovo-Tripolis Zone, before the onset of the shallow
platform calcareous sedimentation. The deposition of the vol-
canic material was interfering with clastic and biochemical?
sedimentation possibly in a shallow water environment. The
end of that volcanic phase marks the onset of the calcareous
sedimentation either in the Carnian—Norian or Rhaetian, or even
in the Lias in central Crete. The shallow water platform sedi-
mentation continued without any break until the Early Tertiary.
GEODYNAMIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TYROS-BEDS ON RHODES ISLAND 43
We propose that the Middle Triassic volcano-sedimentary
sequence, which outcrops near Archangelos village in eastern
Rhodes Island, is a homologue to the Tyros and Ravdoucha
Beds, which represent the stratigraphic base of the Gavrovo-
Tripolis carbonate platform in the Peloponnesus and Crete re-
The correlation of the Archangelos volcano-sedimentary
formation with Tyros Beds indicates that the latter constitutes
a significant characteristic of the entire paleogeographical area
of the External Hellenides carbonate platform, from the
Peloponnesus through Kythira and Crete to Rhodes, before the
onset of the shallow water sedimentation in the Middle—Upper
The deposition of clastic sediments, accompanied by andes-
itic volcanism with lava flows and tuff layers, predates the on-
set of the shallow marine calcareous sedimentation of the
Gavrovo-Tripolis Unit and is present throughout the entire pa-
leogeographical area of the unit. It is noteworthy that the sedi-
mentary facies and the lithological characteristics of the Upper
Paleozoic—Upper Triassic volcano-sedimentary Tyros Beds
formation remain more or less constant all along the southern
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