We use the combined GPS velocity field of the eastern Mediterranean for the period 1988 to 1996 to determine crustal deformation strain rates in a region comprising the Hellenic are, the Aegean Sea, and western Anatolia. We interpret the velocity field and determine the strain rate tensor by the spatial derivatives of the collocated motion vectors. The region following the line Marmara Sea, North Aegean Trough, northern central Greece, and the central Ionian islands is associated with strong right-lateral shear motion, with maximum shear strain rates of 180 nano-strain/a (180 x 10(-9)/a). In the central Aegean Sea, N-S-oriented extensional processes prevail, reaching 100 nano-strain/a. The southern Aegean is characterized by relatively small strain rates. Maximum extensional components of the strain rate tensor, reaching 150 nano-strain/a in a N-S direction, are found in central Greece. The Hellenic are is associated with moderate are-parallel extension and strong compression perpendicular to it. Projections of the strain rates parallel to the major fault zones reveal that the northern Aegean is governed by the westward continuation of the North Anatolian Fault Zone which is associated with strong dextral shearing (maximum 220 nano-strain/a), accompanied by numerous large earthquakes in this century. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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