Amalgamation of East and West Gondwanaland during the Neoproterozoic East African Orogen is recorded by several shear-belts or 'suture zones', some of which are associated with ultramafic and mafic complexes that have been interpreted as ophiolite fragments. The Baruda shear-belt is a major structure of this type that belongs to the N-S trending Barka - Tulu Dimtu zone. The significance of this zone has been studied within a transect in western Ethiopia which covers a variety of metasedimentary and metavolcanic sequences, ultramafic rocks and synkinematic intrusive complexes. All rocks participated in the regional D1 event as reflected in a penetrative steep foliation in supracrustal rocks and marginal parts of the intrusions. Highly strained rocks contain a stretching lineation that plunge to the east. The several-km thick Baruda shear-belt, comprising mylonitic supracrustal and plutonic rocks including mafic-ultramafic mega-lenses, is the most prominent expression of this event. Shear-sense indicators demonstrate top-to-the-west shear. Subsequent D2 deformation is recorded in 2-300 m wide, N-S striking, subvertical shear-zones with subhorizontal stretching lineation relatable to sinistral transcurrent movements. Our data indicate that rock units on either side of the Baruda shear-belt are related, rather than being exotic to each other as implied in suture zone models, since there is no major lithologic or metamorphic difference, geochemical data on metavolcanic rocks and pre-tectonic intrusions suggest a paleotectonic link, and style and extent of deformation is similar across the shear-belt. A tentative model for the transect suggests an arc and back-arc setting which experienced later continental collision and tectonic shortening. The initial setting was that of a shallow marine platform characterised by carbonates and sandstones, which covered extensive areas prior to break-up of a pre-existing supercontinent. Continental convergence is first recorded in high-K calc-alkaline volcanism characterised by pyroclastic deposits of andesitic composition, at an active continental margin at about 800 Ma. Subaerial arc volcanism was temporally and spatially overlapping with limited arc rifting, represented by submarine basalts compositionally transitional between enriched MORB and calc-alkaline magmas, and associated dyke swarms in the older carbonate-sandstone platform sequence. It is suggested that the large, mafic-ultramafic, bodies relate to this event and were originally formed as intrusions along one or more propagating rift axis within the arc complex. The regional Baruda shear-belt formed in response to contractional D1 deformation, and its location may have been largely controlled by competence contrasts between the array of rift-related intrusions and the marble-dominated lithologies. Associated shortening of the arc and back-arc region led to crustal thickening and emplacement of synkinematic, composite, batholiths at about 570-550 Ma. These are composed of moderately peraluminous granite and coeval, intermediate to mafic intrusions of shoshonitic affinity. D2 sinistral movements succeeded the contractional deformation. ?? 2001 Elsevier Science B.V.