Through the use of seismic reflection profiles, satellite images, and balanced kinematic models, we describe patterns that help to identify imbricate structures and define the sequence of thrusting in fold-and-thrust belts. Measures of folding shear strains are employed to define break-forward systems in which younger, deeper faults refold overlying thrust sheets. In contrast, break-backward sequences form a wide range of viable geometries that are not expected to conserve these folding strains. Thus, measures of folding shear strains provide a means to define thrusting sequence. We also explore map-view patterns of imbricate thrusting by using three-dimensional models and stereoscopic satellite images. We present an example from the Peruvian Andes in which these map patterns are combined with seismic reflection profiles to define a complex imbricate system with components of both break-forward and break-backward thrusting. These integrated methods provide new tools for understanding the deformational histories of fold-and-thrust belts, including the definition of complex structural closures with opportunities for hydrocarbon-reservoir duplication.

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