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Abstract

Eastern North America holds clear records of two Wilson cycles and hints of two earlier cycles, through which tectonic inheritance is evident at multiple scales. Large-scale transform offsets of rifted margins indicate inheritance through multiple cycles; transform-parallel intracratonic fault systems suggest a transform-parallel fabric in the lithosphere. Rift segments of the continental margins did not inherit the locations of earlier rifts; synrift intracratonic fault systems follow earlier contractional fabrics of supercontinent assembly. Large-scale curves of the Appalachian–Ouachita orogenic belt (closing of the Iapetus Ocean) mimic the shape of the Iapetan rifted margin of Laurentia. Basins along the Iapetan rifted margin reflect inheritance from transform faults in the greater magnitudes of early post-rift thermal subsidence and later synorogenic tectonic loading and flexural subsidence. Older synrift basement faults buttressed the frontal ramps of Appalachian–Ouachita thin-skinned thrust faults. Basement fault blocks and associated synrift stratigraphic variations in the weak layers that host the regional décollement localized transverse alignments of lateral ramps, as well as tectonic thickening of a mud-dominated graben-fill succession in a ductile duplex (mushwad). The many examples of tectonic inheritance attest to the linkages between processes of successive opening and closing of oceans, as well as the break-up and assembly of supercontinents, through successive Wilson cycles.

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