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Abstract

The Hercynian orogenic cycle, spanning Visean to Late Permian times, was associated with the collision of Gondwana and of the Kazakhstan and the West Siberian blocks with Laurussia and their suturing along the Appalachian-Mauretanides, the Variscan, and the Ural fold belts (Fig. 1).

Continued dextral oblique convergence between Africa and Fennosarmatia culminated in their intra-Visean collision in the western and central Mediterranean area and the onset of the Himalayan-type Variscan orogeny. Consolidation of the Variscan fold belt of Europe was achieved some 40 Ma later in the latest Westphalian (Plates 4, 5).

The northwestern margin of Africa collided presumably during the Late Carboniferous (Namurian to intra-Westphalian(?); Keppie, 1985) with the subduction system marking the Appalachian margin of the North American Craton. The Appalachian-Mauretanides fold belt became consolidated some 60 to 40 Ma later during the late Early Permian final phases of the Alleghenian diastrophism (Secor et al., 1986; Plate 6). The Stephanian-Autunian phases of the Alleghenian diastrophism were accompanied by a major dextral translation between Africa and Europe giving rise to the development of a complex system of wrench faults transecting the Variscan fold belt and its foreland (Arthaud and Matte, 1977; Lefort and van der Voo, 1981; Ziegler, 1982a).

During the Westphalian the Kazakhstan platform collided with the southeastern margin of Fennosarmatia and at about the same time the West Siberian Craton collided with Kazakhstan. Progressive closure of the Uralian Ocean resulted in the northward propagation of the collision front, which reached the eastern margin of the

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