Mesozoic and Cenozoic tectonic history of the central Chinese Tian Shan: Reactivated tectonic structures and active deformation

Abstract : The present-day topography of the Tian Shan range is considered to result from crustal shortening related to the ongoing India-Asia collision that started in the early Tertiary. In this study we report evidence for several episodes of localized tectonic activity which occurred prior to that major orogenic event. Apatite fission track analysis and (U-Th)/He dating on apatite and zircon indicate that inherited Paleozoic structures were reactivated in the late Paleozoic-early Mesozoic during a Cimmerian orogenic episode and also in the Late Cretaceous-Paleogene (around 65-60 Ma). These reactivations could have resulted from the accretion of the Kohistan-Dras arc or lithospheric extension in the Siberia-Mongolia zone. Activity resumed in the late Mesozoic prior to the major Tertiary orogenic phase. Finally, the ongoing deformation, which again reactivates inherited tectonic structures, tends to propagate inside the endoreic basins that were preserved in the range, leading to their progressive closure. This study demonstrates the importance of inherited structures in localizing the first increments of the deformation before it propagates into yet undeformed areas.
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M. Jolivet, Stephane Dominguez, Julien Charreau, Yan Chen, Yongan Li, et al.. Mesozoic and Cenozoic tectonic history of the central Chinese Tian Shan: Reactivated tectonic structures and active deformation. Tectonics, American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2010, 29 (6), pp.TC6019. ⟨10.1029/2010TC002712⟩. ⟨hal-00551323⟩

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