Pre-/early folding fracture patterns were recognized in several anticlines from three structural domains in the Simply Folded Belt of the Fars arc. These fracture sets were characterized in terms of opening mode and relative chronology and used to reconstruct the main compressional trends related to the early Zagros collisional history. The palaeostress reconstructions based on these fracture sets were further refined by combination with newly collected or already available fault-slip and calcite twin data. As an alternative to previous models of rigid block rotations or regional stress rotation, we propose that the complex pattern of pre-folding fractures and the contrasting palaeostress orientations through time in the different domains investigated are related to the presence of basement faults with N–S and WNW trends, above which basement and cover were variably coupled during stress build-up and early deformation of the Arabian margin. Beyond regional implications, this study draws attention to the need to carefully consider pre-existing fractures, possibly unrelated to folding, to build more realistic conceptual fold–fracture models.

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