Abstract

Early ENE-striking joints (present coordinates) within both Pennsylvanian coal and Devonian black shale of the Central and Southern Appalachians reflect an approximately rectilinear stress field with a dimension >1500 km. This Appalachian-wide stress field (AWSF) dates from the time of joint propagation, when both the coal and shale were buried to the oil window during the 10–15 m.y. period straddling the Pennsylvanian-Permian boundary. The AWSF was generated during the final assembly of Pangea as a consequence of plate-boundary tractions arising from late-stage oblique convergence, where maximum horizontal stress, SH, of the AWSF was parallel to the direction of closure between Gondwana and Laurentia. After closure, the AWSF persisted during dextral slip of peri-Gondwanan microcontinents, when SH appears to have crosscut plate-scale transcurrent faults at ∼30°. Following >10 m.y. of dextral slip during tightening of Gondwana against Laurentia, the AWSF was disrupted by local stress fields associated with thrusting on master basement decollements to produce the local orocline-shaped Alleghanian map pattern seen today.

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