Abstract:

In the frontal part of the Rhenohercynian fold-and-thrust belt (High-Ardenne slate belt, Germany), two successive types of quartz veins, oriented normal and parallel to bedding respectively, are interpreted to reflect the early Variscan compressional tectonic inversion of the Ardenne–Eifel sedimentary basin. Fracturing and sealing occurred in Lower Devonian siliciclastic multilayers under very low-grade metamorphic conditions in a brittle upper crust. A geometrical and microthermometric analysis of these veins has helped to constrain the kinematic and pressure–temperature conditions of both vein types, allowing the reconstruction of the stress-state evolution in a basin during tectonic inversion. It is demonstrated that bedding-normal extension veins, which developed under low differential stresses and repeatedly opened and sealed (crack-seal) under near-lithostatic fluid pressures, reflect the latest stage of an extensional stress regime. Bedding-parallel veins, which developed at differential stresses that were still low enough to allow the formation of extension veins, cross-cut the bedding-normal veins and preceded the regional fold and cleavage development. These veins show a pronounced bedding-parallel fabric, reflecting bedding-normal uplift and bedding-parallel shearing under lithostatic to supra-lithostatic fluid pressures during the early stages of a compressional stress regime. This kinematic history corroborates that fluid overpressures are easy to maintain during compressional tectonic inversion at the onset of orogeny.

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