Late Paleozoic wrench faulting in southern Europe and northern Africa is interpreted as a right-lateral shear zone induced by the relative motion of two plates – a northern one that includes the Canadian Shield, Greenland, and stable Europe and a southern one that includes the African Shield plus an unknown eastern extension. The relative movement of these two plates was transformed into shortening at both ends of the shear zone and led to the formation of late Paleozoic mountain belts: the Urals to the east and the southern Appalachians to the west. Theoretical and experimental models of the dynamics of faulting may account for the arrangement of the fractures in the shear zone and for the observed displacements.

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