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Abstract

The tectonic history of the Paleozoic Ouachita orogenic belt composes a complete Wilson cycle: the early history records the rifting of the southern margin of the North American craton and the opening of an ocean basin in which marginal and basinal pre-orogenic sediments were deposited; the later history records the closing of that ocean basin by south-directed subduction and the accompanying deposition and deformation of synorogenic clastic sediments. The off-shelf, pre-orogenic rocks and the deepwater, synorogenic rocks compose the “Ouachita fades” (Fig. 1; Plates 9, 11), deposited beside but not on the North American craton, although the youngest synorogenic sediments lapped onto the southern margin of the craton. Rocks of the Ouachita facies were thrust onto the southern margin of the North American craton during the final stages of ocean closing and constitute the Ouachita orogenic belt. Geologic structures related to the Ouachita orogeny extend beyond the boundaries of the orogenic belt into the cratonal interior.

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