Sediments accreted at subduction zones undergo stratal disruption and form a type of melange. The thickness of the disrupted zones grows with progressive deformation. This suggests that initial fault surfaces are abandoned and deformation propagates into adjacent undeformed sediment. Factors causing the abandonment of fault surfaces during continuing deformation include (1) strengthening owing to porosity loss during consolidation, (2) localized drops in fluid pressure on fault surfaces that act as dewaterinig conduits, and (3) reorientation of fault surfaces. The disruptive processes occurring in accretionary prisms result principally from the deformation of a consolidating sediment mass.