Surface and subsurface data from the Sulaiman fold- and-thrust belt are integrated to analyze the deep structure, tectonic shortening, and kinematics of the Sulaiman fold- and-thrust belt at the western margin of the Indian subcontinent. Seismic reflection data show that nearly all the 10–km-thick sequence of dominantly platform (>7 km) and molasse strata is detached at the deformation front. These strata thicken tectonically to about 20 km in the hinterland without significant thrust faults in the foreland. A balanced structural cross-section suggests that structural uplift in the Sulaiman fold- and-thrust belt is a result of a thin-skinned, passive-roof duplex style of deformation. The duplex sequence consists of Jurassic and older strata. It is separated from the roof sequence by a passive-roof thrust in thick Cretaceous shales that has a backthrust sense of displacement over foreland-propagating duplexes. The roof sequence with incipient out-of-sequence thrusting is intact for about 150 km northwards, where it emerges along a passive backthrust.
Sequential restoration of the balanced section reveals a series of structural and geometrical features including: (1) development of low-amplitude, broad concentric (detachment) folds (Sui and Loti) at the tip of the decollement; (2) increase in amplitude of a detachment fold to a critical level for development of ramp and duplex structures; and (3) out-of-sequence thrusting to create required critical taper for an outward translation of the foreland fold- and-thrust belt.
A balanced structural cross-section 349 km long from the Sulaiman fold- and-thrust belt restores to an original length of 727 km, suggesting a maximum of 378 km of shortening since 21 Ma in the cover strata of the Indian subcontinent. Calculation of displacement rates over the Sulaiman fold- and-thrust belt (18 mm/yr) added to the resolved rate of the Chaman fault vector for the component parallel to the plate convergence direction (15 mm/yr) are close to the current India-Asia plate convergence rate (37 mm/yr).