Understanding the contact between the very low-grade metagreywacke of the Eastern Series and high-pressure metamorphosed schist of the Western Series in the Late Palaeozoic accretionary wedge of central Chile is fundamental for the understanding of the evolution of ancient accretionary wedges. We show the progressive development of structures and finite strain from the least deformed rocks in the eastern part of the Eastern Series of the accretionary wedge to high-pressure schist of the Western Series at the Pacific coast. Upright chevron folds of sedimentary layering are associated with an axial-plane foliation, S1. As the F1 folds became slightly overturned to the west, S1 was folded about west-vergent open F2 folds and an S2 axial-plane foliation developed. Near the contact between the Western and Eastern Series S2 represents a penetrative subhorizontal transposition foliation. Towards the structurally deepest units in the west the transposition foliation becomes progressively flattened. Finite-strain data as obtained by Rf/ϕ analysis in metagreywacke and X-ray texture goniometry in phyllosilicate-rich rocks show a smooth and gradual increase in strain magnitude from east to west. Overturned folds and other shear-sense indicators show a uniform top-to-the-west shear sense in moderately deformed rocks, whereas the shear sense is alternating top-to-the-west and top-to-the-east in the strongly flattened high-pressure rocks of the Western Series near the Pacific coast. We interpret the progressive structural and strain evolution across the contact between the two series to reflect a continuous change in the mode of accretion in the subduction wedge. Initially, the rocks of the Eastern Series were frontally accreted to the pre-Andean margin before c. 300 Ma. Frontal accretion caused horizontal shortening, and upright folds and subvertical axial-plane foliations developed. At c. 300 Ma the mode of accretion changed and the rocks of the Western Series were underplated below the Andean margin. This basal accretion caused a major change in the flow field within the wedge and gave rise to vertical shortening and the development of the penetrative subhorizontal transposition foliation. Subsequent differential exhumation was resolved gradually over a wide region, implying that exhumation was not tectonically controlled.

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