Oblique collision and deformation partitioning in the SW Iberian Variscides
Abstract. Different transpressional scenarios have been proposed to relate kinematics and complex deformation patterns. We apply the most suitable of them to the Variscan orogeny in SW Iberia, which is characterized by a number of successive left-lateral transpressional structures developed in the Devonian to Carboniferous period. These structures resulted from the oblique convergence between three continental terranes (Central Iberian Zone, Ossa-Morena Zone and South Portuguese Zone), whose amalgamation gave way to both intense shearing at the suture-like contacts and transpressional deformation of the continental pieces in-between, thus showing strain partitioning in space and time. We have quantified the kinematics of the collisional convergence by using the available data on folding, shearing and faulting patterns, as well as tectonic fabrics and finite strain measurements. Given the uncertainties regarding the data and the boundary conditions modeled, our results must be considered as a semi-quantitative approximation to the issue, though very significant from a regional point of view. The total collisional convergence surpasses 1000 km, most of them corresponding to left-lateral displacement parallel to terrane boundaries. The average vector of convergence is oriented E–W (present-day coordinates), thus reasserting the left-lateral oblique collision in SW Iberia, in contrast with the dextral component that prevailed elsewhere in the Variscan orogen. This particular kinematics of SW Iberia is understood in the context of an Avalonian plate salient currently represented by the South Portuguese Zone.