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Northward growth of the Qimen Tagh Range: A new model accounting for the Late Neogene strike-slip deformation of the SW Qaidam Basin

Abstract : Situated along the western termination of the Eastern Kunlun Mountains, the Qimen Tagh Range represents a key area to understand the Cenozoic basin-range interactions between the northeastern Tibetan Plateau and the Qaidam Basin. Within that region, several huge bow-like fault systems such as the Kunbei and Qimen Tagh fault systems accommodate the transpressive deformation but their kinematic evolution is still highly debated. Newly acquired seismic profiles and isopach maps of the Late Eocene sediments strongly suggest that the Kunbei fault system (consisting of the Kunbei, Arlar and Hongliuquan faults) in the southwestern Qadaim Basin was initially a left-lateral strike-slip fault system rather than a thrusting system. Growth strata indicate an Early Miocene onset age for this strike-slip deformation. However, earthquake focal mechanisms show that the present-day tectonic pattern of this fault system is dominated by NE-SW transpression. As for the Qimen Tagh fault system, numerous linear geomorphic features and fault scarps indicate that it was again a strike-slip fault system. Deformed sediments within the Adatan Valley prove that strike-slip motion prevailed during the Pleistocene, yet the present day deformation is marked by NE-SW transpression. Collectively, the Kunbei and Qimen Tagh fault systems were initially left-lateral strike-slip fault systems that formed during Early Miocene and Pleistocene respectively. Colligating with these southward younging left-lateral strike-slip faulting ages and the fact that these convex-northward structures converge to the center segment of active Kunlun fault in the east, we thus considered the Kunbei and Qimen Tagh fault systems as former western segments of the Kunlun fault once located further south in the present-day location of that fault. These faults gradually migrated northward since the Early Miocene while their kinematics changed from left-lateral strike-slip motion to NE-SW transpression.
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Feng Cheng, Marc Jolivet, Suotang Fu, Qiquan Zhang, Shuwei Guan, et al.. Northward growth of the Qimen Tagh Range: A new model accounting for the Late Neogene strike-slip deformation of the SW Qaidam Basin. Tectonophysics, Elsevier, 2014, 632, pp.32-47. ⟨10.1016/j.tecto.2014.05.034⟩. ⟨insu-01065836⟩

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