The existence of coherent, large-scale, submarine landslides on modern continental margins implies that their apparent rarity in ancient orogenic belts is due to non-recognition. Two map-scale, coherent, pre-orogenic, normal-sense detachment structures of Ediacaran age are present in the Kaoko belt, a well-exposed arc–continent collision zone in northwestern Namibia. The structures occur within the Otavi Group, a Neoproterozoic carbonate shelf succession. They are brittle structures, evident only through stratigraphic omissions of 400 m or more, that ramp down to the west with overall ramp angles of 1.1° and 1.3° with respect to stratigraphic horizons. The separations of matching footwall and hangingwall stratigraphic cut-offs require horizontal translations >20 km for each detachment. One of the detachments is remarkably narrow (5 km) in the up-dip direction, just one fourth of its translation. The other detachment is stratigraphically dated at the shelf–foredeep transition, when the passive margin was abortively subducted westward, in the direction of submarine sliding. Trenchward sliding on the foreslope occurred concurrently with deep karstification of the autochthonous carbonate succession to the east, presumably due to forebulge uplift and (or) conjectural basin-scale base-level fall. We expect that similar detachments exist in other orogenic belts, and failure to recognize them can lead to misinterpretations of stratigraphy, sedimentary facies, and paleogeography.

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