Major uplifting of the island’s mountains begun in the early Pliocene, around 5 million years ago. Up until then the large massifs must not have been more than 500 meters high. Three million years later Crete had emerged from the sea to acquire more or less its present outline, if not is present relief. In the Pliocene,at the same time as the mountain massifs moved upwards, faults were created, and the nappes moved and fragmented. Entire sections where uplifted, while others submerged to form deep tectonic trenches covered by seawater. The mountains grew taller, though their summits did not yet exceed 1,500 meters. As uplifting continued, the sandy and clay sediments that had accumulated in the tectonic trenches and shallow seas dividing the palaeo-Cretan islands gradually rose ti the surface, forming layers of yellow to off-white marls. These are to be seen in all low-lying areas of Crete, from Kissamos and the hills of Chania and Rethymnon, the Amari Valley, the plains of Messara and Heraklion to the isthmus and plain of Ierapetra or Siteia. Apart from soft whitish-yellow marls there are also sandstones, breccias and conglomerates,as well as soft limestones. The uplifting continued throughout the Pleiostocene. Crete’s outline did not change essentially, but the mountains rose from only 1,500 meters at the beginning of the period to their present height, close to 2.500 meters. Is the upward trend continuing to this day? That is difficult to answer for all of Crete, which seem to consist of different independently moving pieces.
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