Using the geologist’s interpretation of 6 published balanced cross-sections in the fold and thrust belts of the northwestern Mediterranean, a comparative analysis of the interpreted subsurface structural architecture is used to address the links between the structural style and the mechanics of fold and thrust emplacement. For each cross-section example, the geo-dataset and the methods used by the interpreters are different in quantity and quality. Here we have examined how useful is the content of information of each cross-section to constrain the structural evolution scenario. Each interpretation is examined according to considerations of the mechanics of sedimentary basin deformation and how uncertain is the extrapolation of fault trajectory at depth. It is shown that each case reveals a particular type of structural style: thin-skin or thick skin tectonics, fault-related folding, pre-existing fault pattern. The present structural analysis is used to determine for each cross-section the nature of the mechanical problem to address that will reduce uncertainty on the geologic scenario reconstruction. The proposed mechanical boundary conditions could serve to develop analog or numerical models that aim at testing the mechanical validity of the structural scenario of fold and thrust emplacement.

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