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Controversy is common concerning the sequence of thrust fault imbrication on the scale of one or several quadrangles. Regional thrusting sequences in young orogenic belts are generally from the hinterland to the foreland. This is contrary to the previously proposed regional progression of thrusting for the southern Appalachian Valley and Ridge province. This paper uses cutoff-line maps to systematically examine some of the map patterns and cross-sectional interpretations used as evidence for the foreland-to-hinterland sequence of thrusting. Idealized examples of cutoff-line maps and cross-sectional patterns for both truncated structures and stair-stepped structures can be compared with observed map patterns and previously proposed cross-sectional interpretations. This provides critical evidence for interpreting the map data. Additional critical observations can be made as to the extent that faults may be folded by underlying structures, rather than truncating them.

Overall, the cutoff-line approach and the folded fault approach document that the truncated folds expected in map-pattern for a foreland-to-hinterland thrust sequence do not occur in the east Tennessee area. Folded faults and westward-younging cutoff-line patterns indicate that later faults were in front of, and beneath, earlier ones in a hinterland-to-foreland sequence.

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