Orogenic belts resulting from the collision of continents are characterized by a lengthwise pinching and swelling from narrow zones of high strain, where sutures may be cryptic, to wider zones of lower intensity strain, where former oceans have incompletely closed. This results from the collision of irregularly shaped continental margins whose jaggedness is a consequence of continental break-up along zones of extension that link rift-valley systems developed on hot spots. The progressive convergence of irregular continental margins proceeds from projection points of initial impingement along lengthening suture zones. This leads to complex diachronous relations between basement nappes, sideways-feeding flysch fans, and sideways-driven splinters of continental crust.

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