Abstract

The link between orogenic activity and foreland basin stratigraphy is well established; however, potential controls by foreland basin stratigraphy on thrust belt architecture have not been fully evaluated. Mechanical properties of typical foreland basin stratigraphic successions influence the structural development of fold-thrust belts in predictable ways. Fundamental features of foreland basins include the onset of rapid subsidence and deposition of a coarsening-upward sedimentary succession. In the lower part of this succession are fine-grained, distal foreland basin deposits. Enlargement of the orogenic wedge through frontal accretion incorporates the foreland basin strata into the thrust belt, and distal foreland basin depositional units may be preferentially exploited as a thrust detachment zone, resulting in multiple detachment levels. We propose that foreland basin stratigraphic architecture has significant influence on the structural development of thrust belts and that, by extension, processes that influence foreland basin sedimentation may ultimately influence orogenic evolution far removed in time and space.

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