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The structural evolution of England and Wales during the Carboniferous was primarily a consequence of an oblique (dextral) collision between Gondwana and Laurussia (2507). Several phases can be recognized. The Rhenohercynian Ocean opened during Early–Mid Devonian regional bacK–Arc transtension between Avalonia and Armorica (1), possibly associated with northward-directed subduction along the southern margin of Armorica. A narrow seaway floored by oceanic crust developed, extending across southwest England, northern France and Germany. Cessation of the subduction, associated with the Ligerian orogenic phase of central Europe, resulted from the collision of the Iberian and Armorican microplates (1). During the Late Devonian, transpressive closure of this restricted ocean, associated with the Bretonian orogenic phase, may have occurred in response to short-lived southward-directed subduction of the Rhenohercynian oceanic plate beneath Armorica.

A return to northward-directed subduction of the Theic oceanic plate along the southern margin of Iberia/Armorica (1) resulted in a Late Devonian–Early Carboniferous phase of bacK–Arc extension within the Avalonian part of the Laurussian plate (2507). The resultant N–S rifting affected all of central and northern England and North Wales, initiating development of a series of graben and half-grabens,

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