Understanding the exhumation process of deep-seated material within subduction zones is important in comprehending the tectonic evolution of active margins. The deformation and slip history of superficial nappe pile emplaced upon high-P/T type metamorphic rocks can reveal the intimate relationship between deformation and transitions in paleo-stress that most likely arose from changes in the direction of plate convergence and exhumation of the metamorphic terrane. The Kinshozan-Atokura nappe pile emplaced upon the high-P/T type Sanbagawa (= Sambagawa) metamorphic rocks is the remnant of a pre-existing terrane located between paired metamorphic terranes along the Median Tectonic Line (MTL) of central Japan. Intra- and inter-nappe structures record the state of paleo-stress during metamorphism and exhumation of the Sanbagawa terrane. The following tectonic evolution of the nappes is inferred from a combined structural analysis of the basal fault of the nappes and their internal structures. The relative slip direction along the hanging wall rotated clockwise by 180°, from S to N, in association with a series of major tectonic changes from MTL-normal contraction to MTL-parallel strike-slip and finally MTL-normal extension. This clockwise rotation of the slip direction can be attributed to changes in the plate-induced regional stress state and associated exhumation of the deep-seated Sanbagawa terrane from the Late Cretaceous (Coniacian) to the Middle Miocene.
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