Major middle-upper Paleozoic paleogeographic elements in both the northern and southern parts of the New England Fold Belt comprise a western volcanic chain, a fore-chain basin, and an eastern nonvolcanic arc-platform-trench complex. These elements developed above a west-dipping subduction zone. Temporary halts in subduction led to minor deformational episodes. During the Late Devonian period, the northern part of the belt was displaced eastward by movement on the west-northwest–striking Tenterfield Fault. Behind the displaced arc immediately north of the fault, an intra-arc basin developed. This was largely filled by sediment during the Carboniferous and was deformed at about the end of the Carboniferous period by reversal of movement on the fault.
Subduction ceased throughout the belt in Early Permian time and was followed by major orogenesis. At a late stage in deformation, right-lateral movement on the Demon Fault displaced certain of the paleogeographic elements.