The Tertiary fold and thrust belt of Spitsbergen was created by compressional dextral strike-slip movement on the Splitsbergen fracture zone system as Spitsbergen moved past northern Greenland during the opening of the Norwegian and Greenland Seas. This interpretation thus follows that of Harland (1965 Harland (1969), but gives primary emphasis to strike-slip as a motor for deformation. The Spitsbergen orogenic belt as a “strike-slip orogenic belt” differs from a “subduction orogenic belt” in having a discrete pattern of en echelon folds, in having a narrow zone of deformed sedimentary cover with a much greater degree of basement involvement, in having presumably different cross-sectional profiles of thrusts, upthrust versus downward flattening, in being shorter in length, and probably in lacking alpine ophiolites and lacking metamorphism. Deformation is associated with a laterally moving and rising, lithospheric welt, rather than a downgoing lithospheric slab.

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