The Nordfjord-Sogn Detachment Zone of western Norway represents an archetype for crustal-scale normal faults that are typically cited as one of the primary mechanisms responsible for the exhumation of ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) terranes. In this paper, we investigate the role of normal-sense shear zones with respect to UHP exhumation using structural geology, thermobarometry, and geochronology of the Hornelen segment of the Nordfjord-Sogn Detachment Zone. The Hornelen segment of the zone is a 2–6 km thick, top-W shear zone, primarily developed within amphibolite-grade allochthonous rocks, that juxtaposes the UHP rocks of the Western Gneiss Complex in its footwall with lower-grade allochthons and Carboniferous-Devonian Basins in its hanging wall. New thermobarometry and Sm/Nd garnet geochronology show that these top-W fabrics were initiated at lower crustal depths of 30–40 km between 410 Ma and 400 Ma. Structural geology and quartz petrofabrics indicate that top-W shear was initially relatively evenly distributed across the shear zone, and then overprinted by discrete ductile-brittle detachment faults at slower strain rates during progressive deformation and exhumation. These results require a three-stage model for UHP exhumation in which normal-sense shear zones exhumed UHP rocks from the base of the crust along initially broad ductile shear zones that were progressively overprinted by discrete ductile-brittle structures.
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