Abstract

Plate boundaries are rarely straight lines, and interplate movements are rarely at right angles. The consequences of oblique interactions at both continent-ocean and continent-continent irregular margins are considered theoretically, and the results are compared with various active plate boundaries.

We use an oblique-collision model to explain the evolution of the late Paleozoic orogens of the “Atlantic-Mediterranean‘ region. In particular, the model reconciles paleontologic requirements for a “Central European Ocean” with the lack of geotectonic evidence for closure of such an ocean. In addition, the model explains the inhomogeneous nature of these orogens, from the southern Appalachians and the Mauritanides to the Urals. The model is highly speculative, but it does rationalize the irregular distributions (in time and in space) of ophiolite, island-arc sequences, major strike-slip faults, and metallogenic belts.

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