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The central Appalachians form a classic orogen whose structural architecture developed during episodes of contractional, extensional, and transpressional deformation from the Proterozoic to the Mesozoic. These episodes include components of the Grenville orogenic cycle, the eastern breakup of Rodinia, Appalachian orogenic cycles, the breakup of Pangea, and the opening of the Atlantic Ocean basin. This field trip examines an array of rocks deformed via both ductile and brittle processes from the deep crust to the near-surface environment, and from the Mesoproterozoic to the present day.

The trip commences in suspect terranes of the eastern Piedmont in central Virginia, and traverses northwestward across the Appalachian orogen through the thick-skinned Blue Ridge basement terrane, and into the thin-skinned fold-and-thrust belt of the Valley and Ridge geologic province. The traverse covers a range of deformation styles that developed over a vast span of geologic time: from high-grade metamorphic rocks deformed deep within the orogenic hinterland, to sedimentary rocks of the foreland that were folded, faulted, and cleaved in the late Paleozoic, to brittle extensional structures that overprint many of these rocks. Stops include: the damage zone of a major Mesozoic normal fault, composite fabrics in gneiss domes, transpressional mylonites that accommodated orogen-parallel elongation, contractional high-strain zones, and overpressured breccia zones in the Blue Ridge, as well as folds, thrusts, and back thrusts of the Alleghanian foreland.

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