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Abstract

The Ribblesdale fold belt, representing the Variscan inversion of the Bowland Basin, is a well-known geological feature of northern England. It represents a crustal strain discontinuity between the granite-underpinned basement highs of the northern Pennines and Lake District in the north, and the Central Lancashire High/southern Pennines, in the south. Recent seismic interpretation and mapping have demonstrated that the Ribblesdale fold belt continues offshore towards Anglesey via the Deemster Platform, beneath the Permo-Triassic sedimentary cover of the southern part of the East Irish Sea Basin. The Môn–Deemster fold–thrust belt (FTB) affects strata of Mississippian to late Pennsylvanian age. Variscan thrusts extend down into the pre-Carboniferous basement but apparently terminate at a low-angle detachment deeper in the crust, here correlated with the strongly sheared Penmynydd Zone exposed in the adjacent onshore. Up to 15% shortening is observed on seismic sections across the FTB offshore, but is greater in the strongly inverted onshore segment. Pre-Carboniferous thrusting post-dates formation of the Penmynydd Zone, and is probably of Acadian age, when basement structures such as the southward-vergent Carmel Head Thrust formed. Extensional reactivation of the Acadian structures in early Mississippian time defined the northern edge of the offshore Bowland Basin. The relatively late brittle structures of the Menai Strait fault system locally exhume the Penmynydd Zone and define the southern edge of the basin. The longer seismic records from the offshore provide insights to the tectonic evolution of the more poorly imaged FTB onshore.

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