Mechanically induced calcite twins in veins and host rocks of Late Cretaceous to Miocene age in Iran have been used to determine regional Arabia-Eurasia collisional stresses. A late folding stress regime with a compression oriented 025° (±15°) has been identified across the Zagros belt and the southern Iranian Plateau. This late Neogene stress pattern agrees with the current stress field determined from the focal mechanisms of basement earthquakes and suggests that the Hormuz salt décollement poorly decouples the basement and cover stress fields. Our data show that the collisional state of stress has been relatively constant since ca. 5 Ma. The magnitudes of the stresses obtained from the twinning analysis are unexpectedly low, and, to a first approximation, they are constant across the Zagros simply folded belt. This result supports an overall mechanism of buckling of the detached Zagros cover. Internal viscous-plastic processes help to relieve stress within this cover, thus lowering its seismogenic potential. Beyond these regional implications, this study underlines the potential of paleostress analyses in constraining both the tectonics and the mechanics of ancient and active foreland fold belts.

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