Thrust imbrication of Ordovician and Silurian submarine fan sequences overlapping pelagic deposits in the Southern Uplands has been interpreted in terms of an accretionary prism formed above a NW-directed subduction zone. Structural features invoked to support accretion are not definitive and could be explained in terms of a thin-skinned thrusting model. New palaeocurrent and compositional evidence from Llandeilo to mid-Llandovery age turbidites in the northern part of the Southern Uplands proves interdigitation of sediments with strongly contrasting petrography. Turbidites derived from the south contain significant quantities of fresh andesitic detritus whereas those from the north form more mature quartz-rich formations. This implies a back-arc situation; the turbidites being deposited in a basin with a relatively mature continental landmass to the north and a rifted continental fragment containing an active volcanic arc to the south. Oblique collision of the opposing continental margins of the Iapetus Ocean during the Llandovery caused the cessation of subduction. Underthrusting of the southern margin initiated a SE-propagating thrust stack which deformed the back-arc basin sequence and may eventually have ramped over the eroded and faulted remains of the volcanic arc.
A southward-migrating foreland basin formed ahead of the rising thrust stack and is now represented by the late Llandovery Hawick Group and Wenlock sequences. Mid- to end-Silurian sinistral strike-slip resulted from oblique collision and produced a transpressional regime during which reactivation of deep-seated structures allowed the intrusion of lamprophyre dykes and granites.