Abstract From tunnel and map data, three detailed balanced cross-sections of the Mesozoic cover of the Jura fold and thrust belt in the Hauenstein area (eastern Jura Mountains, Switzerland) were constructed. Viable models of the kinematic evolution of the structures document different stages of thrust development. Most thrust propagate first from the basal décollement in the Middle Triassic evaporites to the Opalinus shales. In some cases they continue for a short distance layer parallel and then break through to the surface. In other cases they get stuck in the Opalinus shales. With further shortening, either a delamination occurs, where the incompetent layers were wedged under the overlying competent limestones. The thrust breaks through the limb of the anticline at a higher level. Otherwise, the thrust steepens and breaks through the hinge of the fold. The resulting, kinematically viable sections confirm that the Miocene thrusts nucleate at inhomogeneities of the sub-décollement relief. These are possibly related to the borders of an underlying Palaeozoic trough system, reactivated as faulted flexures during the Eocene to Early Miocene.