Abstract

Analysis of the fore-arc remnants and suture-zone rocks in the European Variscides using criteria established for the Circum-Pacific margins (geometry, sedimentary evolution, and style of deformation) shows that precollisonal orogenic evolution can also be reconstructed for ancient collisional belts. The collision zone of the lower-plate thrust belt (Rhenohercynian zone) and the upper-plate arc and fore-arc remnants (Saxothuringian zone and Saar basin) indicate subduction erosion of the upper plate by some 50 km length of upper-plate lithosphere prior to collision. Removal started during early convergence in the Famennian (ca. 365 ma) and lasted until the Late Visean onset of collision (ca. 330 ma). Part of this material may have been underplated below the upper plate and has since resurfaced as high-pressure rocks contributing to the metamorphic core of the orogen.

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