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Late orogenic carboniferous extensions in the Variscan French Massif Central

Abstract : The Variscan French Massif Central experienced two successive stages of extension from Middle Carboniferous to Early Permian. In the northern Massif Central, the first stage began in the late Visean, immediately after nappe stacking, and is well recorded by Namurian-Westphalian synkinematic plutonism. The Middle Carboniferous leucogranites widespread in the NW Massif Central (Limousin and Sioule area) were emplaced within a crust extending along a NE-SW direction. At the same time, the hanging wall or "Guéret extensional allochton" moved toward the SE. Several examples of the synextensional plutonism are also recognized in central Limousin: Saint Mathieu dome, La Porcherie, and Cornil leucogranites. These examples illustrate the relationship between granite emplacement and crustal scale deformation characterized by NW-SE stretching and NE-SW shortening. In the central and southern Massif Central (Cévennes, Châtaigneraie, and Margeride areas), plutonism is dominantly granodioritic and exhibits the same structural features: NW-SE maximum stretching and overturning to the SE. Middle Carboniferous (Namurian-Westphalian) extension was parallel to the Variscan belt both in the Massif Central and southern Armorican area. This extensional regime was active from the late Visean in the north, while compression dominated in the southernmost domains (Montagne Noire and Pyrenées). The second extensional stage occurred from Late Carboniferous to Early Permian. This event was responsible for the opening of intramontane coal basins, brittle deformation in the upper crust, and ductile normal faulting localized on the margin of cordierite granite-migmatite domes. Data from the coal basins show that the half-graben is the dominant structural style, except for basins located along submeridianal left-lateral faults which have pull-apart geometries. Late Carboniferous extension occurred along the NE-SW direction. The NE-SW maximum stretching direction can be found in the whole Massif Central but is more developed in the eastern part. The extensional direction is transverse to the general trend of the belt, and top-to-the-NE shearing is dominant. Correlations of these two extension directions with neighboring Variscan massifs are discussed.
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Michel Faure. Late orogenic carboniferous extensions in the Variscan French Massif Central. Tectonics, American Geophysical Union (AGU), 1995, 14 (1), pp.132-153. ⟨10.1029/94TC02021⟩. ⟨insu-00716156⟩

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