The Valemount strain zone (VSZ), a narrow zone of high orogen-parallel (OP) strain in pebble conglomerate of the Late Proterozoic Miette Group, is the footwall expression of a thrust fault on the western edge of the Rocky Mountain belt, marking the eastern limit of a wide zone of OP fabrics distributed through the Omineca crystalline and western Rocky Mountain belts of the southeastern Canadian Cordillera. Kinematic indicators from the VSZ and the adjacent Bear Foot thrust zone show that both thrust and dextral displacement are associated with folding and thrust motion in the Rocky Mountains, thereby linking the southern Rocky Mountain belt to the Omineca belt by an oblique-slip thrust regime that is tectonically unrelated to the Southern Rocky Mountain Trench.

Transverse shortening of thrust sheets and subsequent distribution of OP shear are invoked to explain the parallelism of stretching lineations and fold axes. Strain and kinematic data and the thrust-belt geometry of the VSZ suggest that OP lineations are a product of a large amount of transverse shortening during slightly oblique A-type subduction. Thus, OP lineations are not representative of relative plate motions between North America and accreted terranes, but probably are a function of footwall buttressing of thrust sheets, a mechanism that may be widely applicable to the internal zones of collisional orogens.

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