A new structural model for the northeast part of the Central Appalachian foreland and fold-and-thrust belt is based on detailed field mapping, geophysical data, and balanced cross-section analysis. The model demonstrates that the region contains a multiply deformed, parautochthonous fold-and-thrust system of Paleozoic age. Our interpretations differ from previous ones in which the entire region north of the Newark basin was considered to be allochthonous. The new interpretation requires a substantial decrease in Paleozoic tectonic shortening northeastward from adjacent parts of the Central Appalachian foreland and illustrates the common occurrence of backthrusting within the region.
During early Paleozoic time northern New Jersey consisted of a Taconic orogenic foreland in which cover folds (F1) involved lower Paleozoic carbonate and flysch overlying Middle Proterozoic basement. F1 folds are open and upright in the foreland and more gently inclined to recumbent southeastward toward the trace of the Taconic allochthons. F1 structures were cut and transported by a fold-and-thrust system of the Alleghany orogeny. This thrust system mostly involves synthetic faults originating from a master decollement rooted in Proterozoic basement. Antithetic faults locally modify early synthetic overthrusts and S1 cleavage in lower Paleozoic cover and show out-of-sequence structural development. The synthetic parts of the regional thrust system are bounded in the northwestern foreland by blind antithetic faults interpreted from seismic-reflection data. This antithetic faulting probably represents Paleozoic reactivation of Late Proterozoic basement faults. Tectonic contraction in overlying cover occurred by wedge faulting where synthetic and antithetic components of the foreland fault system overlap. S2 cleavage in the Paleozoic cover stems from Alleghanian shortening and flattening and commonly occurs in the footwall of large overthrust sheets. Paleozoic structures in Proterozoic basement include fault blocks bounded by high-angle faults and low- to moderate-angle shear zones that locally produce overlying cover folds. Broad and open folds in basement probably reflect shear-zone displacement of subhorizontal foliation. Our cross-section interpretations require limited involvement of lower Paleozoic cover folds in the footwalls of major overthrust faults. Palinspastic restoration of F1 folds produces an arched passive-margin sequence. The tectonic contraction for the Valley and Ridge province and southeastern Pocono Plateau is about 25 km, and tectonic wedge angles are 8°–11°.