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Abstract

The Achnashellach Culmination is one of the major structures of the Moine Thrust Belt. As with other culminations in the belt, it is formed by a stack of imbricate thrusts. Up to 1 km of Torridon Group sediments, together with a further 200–250 m of Cambrian strata, are repeated up to 10 times, but with ramp-on-ramp thrust geometries. Thus structural thickening was chiefly achieved by thick thrust sheets with individually and aggregated displacements that are substantially lower than elsewhere in the thrust belt. The culmination is limited on its flanks by lateral ramps that climb section out of Torridon Group and up into Cambrian strata. To the north the imbricate thrusts may be deduced to branch onto the major Kinlochewe Thrust. To the south the imbricates are represented only by stacked Durness Limestone. The northward-climbing lateral ramp coincides with a major Precambrian structure, the Loch Maree Fault, which controls the thickness of Torridonian strata preserved beneath the sub-Cambrian unconformity, a rare example of basement influence on thrust system geometry within the Moine Thrust Belt. The imbricates of the Achnashellach Culmination show back-steepening and have bulged up the overriding Kishorn and Kinlochewe thrust sheets. However, these structurally higher level tectonic units slice across imbricate structures in their footwalls. Elsewhere high-level thrusts are folded by some parts of underlying imbricates. Collectively these relationships are not compatible with classical duplex models. They are explained better by models of quasi-synchronous slip on imbricate thrusts. Discordant relationships beneath major thrust sheets, including those that cut down stratigraphic section in the transport direction, can be explained by such models without necessitating low-angle extensional faulting within the thrust belt.

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