Abstract

The Main Uralian Fault has been considered the original arc–continent suture for 2000 km along the Uralide orogen. The symmetry of the tectonic units across it suggested a consistent east-dipping polarity for the palaeosubduction zone, which, together with its topographic and aeromagnetic signature, supported the idea of a single suture. However, several characteristics vary at different latitudes. In the Middle Urals, it is a strike-slip fault zone with moderately deformed and metamorphosed volcanic arc fragments in its hanging wall, and low-grade metamorphic rocks of the East European Craton in its footwall. Here, it has a prominent NNW-trending magnetic signature which cross-cuts north-trending anomalies in its hanging wall, and a pronounced reflection seismic signature that can be traced to the top of the middle crust at c. 5 s. TWT. In the Southern Urals, it is a serpentinite mélange zone of ambiguous kinematics, with a weakly deformed and metamorphosed volcanic arc in its hanging wall, and moderately metamorphosed to high pressure rocks of the East European Craton in its footwall. In this part of the orogen, it has a weak reflection seismic character, and a magnetic signature that parallels that of its hanging wall. On the basis of an integrated analysis of these different data sets, we suggest that the Main Uralian Fault, as it is currently defined, is not a single entity, but rather the original arc–continent suture in the south, and the western strand of a strike-slip fault system that reworked the original suture in the Middle Urals.

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