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Structural evolution in the northern part of the Moine thrust belt, NW Scotland

  • D. Elliott (a1) and M. R. W. Johnson (a2)


Four balanced cross sections, supported by longitudinal sections, structure contour maps, stratigraphic separation diagrams and hangingwall sequence diagrams are keys to this interpretation of the Moine thrust, which forms the western margin of the Caledonides in NW Scotland. New basement and cover correlations between foreland and thrust belt give new slip estimates for the Moine thrust (∼ 77 km), the Loch More klippe (≥ 43 km), Glencoul sheet (20–25 km), Ben More sheet (∼28 km), Achall and Dundonnell ‘sheet II’ (∼28 km).

Like other major thrusts the Moine thrust moved in a smooth or rough fashion at different places and times, and many structures are a footwall response to its passage. Widely developed duplexes vary in thickness so that the roof thrust is folded and occasionally faulted; many late Caledonian folds in the Moine metasediments are of this origin. The presence of igneous bodies with contact aureoles increased the propensity to rough slip and this, by causing thickening in the footwall to the Moine thrust, is partly responsible for the Assynt culmination.

The previously accepted sequence of thrusting from foreland to hinterland, which has been deduced from the concept of ‘overstep’ of the Moine thrust across lower thrusts, is considered to be a misconception of thrust geometry. Instead, a ‘piggy-back’ sequence of thrusts, from higher to lower, is proposed.



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