Abstract

Although major deformation in the western Alps is clearly the result of north-northwest-directed thrust tectonics, there is evidence suggesting that orogen-parallel deformation may have been important in the late tectonic history of the western Alps. We propose that this northeast-trending deformation includes (1) southwest-directed normal-fault movement along the Simplon line; (2) a diffuse zone of northeast-striking dextral strike-slip deformation along the Rhône Valley in Switzerland, between the Mont Blanc and Aiguilles Rouges massifs, and through the Belledonne massif; and (3) southwest-directed thrusting in the Embrunais-Ubaye and Digne nappe systems of southeastern France. The correlation of these three broad regions of deformation is based on similar amounts of minimum displacement, consistent kinematics, and timing of deformation.

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