Abstract

The collision of irregular continental margins during an Alpine-type orogeny may give rise to a series of deformational events in the forelands, the tectonic style of which may be critically dependent on complete or incomplete suturing of the two colliding continents. Dilatational structures such as mafic dikes, gravity faults, and grabens may form at those points where the continents first meet. Later, as the suture lengthens, large-scale wrench faults develop in the foreland area. When the compression caused by the orogen ceases, these foreland structures become inactive. The large-scale grabens and wrench faults observed in the forelands of the Alpine and northwestern European Variscide belts may be examples of such collision-related foreland structures. If the model presented in this paper is approximately correct, then it may be used to connect some intraplate phenomena to interplate tectonism.

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