Consideration of six balanced cross-sections through parts of the Finnmark Caledonides, N Norway indicates that shortening varies between 25% and 75%. A restored long cross-section across the width of the orogen, constructed with the aid of a branch line map, demonstrates a foreland propagating thrust system, with earlier formed more internal metamorphic nappes thrust SE 330 km under ductile conditions and then carried piggyback ESE a further 296 km on later brittle thrust sheets. Total shortening is 78·7% with a translation of the most internal thrust sheet of 626 km.
The restored section suggests that: (1) the rate of propagation of deformation from hinterland to foreland is c. 2·27 cm y−1; (2) incorporation of basement into the nappes resulted from inversion of extensional faults formed during Iapetus rifting; (3) during rifting a Finnmark basement ridge separated a 220 km wide southeasterly Gaissa basin from the passive Iapetus continental margin which was at least 423 km wide; (4) the Finnmark Caledonides resulted from a continent-microcontinent collision which obducted continental crust at least 600 km across the Baltic margin; and (5) the Caledonian Baltoscandian margin prior to Iapetus suturing extended at least 400 km W of the Norwegian coast. On a Bullard reconstruction this overlaps with Laurentian rocks in Greenland. The excess continental crust is accounted for by shortening of the Baltoscandian margin during collision.