Helmholtz Centre Potsdam
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
Abstract (EDOC: 4427)
Strain data across the entire western Rhenish Massif illustrate the pattern of deformation partitioning within a fold and thrust belt from the foreland on the northern front of the European Variscides to the suture with the internal zones of higher metamorphic grade. Shortening perpendicular to cleavage increases from 16 to 27% (constant volume assumed) in the northern Rhenish Massif to 51% at the southern border. These values correspond to a weak general layer-parallel shortening of the basin filling in cross-section on the order of about 5–15% and more in the case of volume loss. The geometry of apparent finite strain is nearly plane strain except in the Venn Anticlinorium where strain is apparent prolate and near the southern margin of the Massif where it is apparent oblate. Net orogenic shortening in the upper crust of the fold and thrust belt is approximately 42%. It is mainly achieved by folding and tectonic stacking of the deformed basin filling, which was apparently detached from the lower crust. Distribution of strain in the orogenic wedge is controlled by different factors at different scales. Heterogeneity is caused by changes in lithology and average grain size, by the structural position of samples in folds and their distance from thrusts in the hangingwall (at deeper crustal levels), and by the regional distribution of the metamorphic grade, i.e. by the dominant deformation mechanism. This last factor causes an exponential increase of strain with approach to the ductile lower crust. The superposition of strain partitioning mechanisms on different scales creates a complex regional strain pattern. The southern part of the thrust belt apparently suffered late westward motion (in gently dipping imbricates) or strike-parallel motion (in steeply dipping imbricates) which is probably due to oblique convergence between the Rhenohercynian and Saxothuringian microplates.
(1994): Strain partitioning across a fold and thrust belt: the Rhenish Massif, Mid-European Variscides. Journal of Structural Geology, 16, 10, 1335-1352.