The Variscan continental collision has led to the development of large strike-slip shear zones in western Europe. Our study focuses on the regional deformation and shear zone patterns in the Massif Armoricain and the French Massif Central. The synthesis of granite emplacement ages associated to granite deformation fields, allow us to propose a geodynamic model for the tectonic evolution of this part of the Variscan belt between 370 Ma – 320 Ma (Late Devonian – Namurian).
After the first steps of the continental subduction-collision, leading to high temperature and anatexis associated with N-S shortening at 380-370 Ma (Frasnian to Famennian), the southern part of the Massif Armoricain and western part of French Massif Central underwent large dextral shearing along N100-N130 trending shear zones up to early Visean time. These large-scale displacements progressively decreased at around 350-340 Ma, during the first emplacements of biotite bearing granites (Moulins-les Aubiers-Gourgé massif and Guéret massif intrusions).
During middle Visean times, the shortening axis direction rotated towards a NNE-SSW direction implying changes in the regional deformation field. The occurrence of N070-N100 sinistral and N110-N130 dextral conjugate shear zones within leucogranites are related to that time. Finally, new N150-N160 dextral shear zones appeared in middle to late Visean times: as for examples, the Parthenay and the Pradines shear zones in the SE Massif Armoricain and the Millevaches massif, respectively. These shear zones were conjugated to the sinistral N020 Sillon Houiller in the French Massif Central. They reflect large scale brittle continental indentation in the French Variscan belt during the middle to late Visean.