Neotectonics of the Min Shan, China: Implications for mechanisms driving Quaternary deformation along the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau

  • Kirby E
  • Whipple K
  • Burchfiel B
 et al. 
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Abstract

The Min Shan region, located along the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau north of the Sichuan Basin, provides an important natural laboratory in which to study the rates and patterns of deformation and their relationship to mountain building at the margin of the plateau. The topographic margin of the plateau is coincident with a north-trending mountain range, the Min Shan, that stands nearly 2 km above the mean elevation of the plateau (similar to 3500 m in this region). We exploit the preservation of a series of variably deformed Quaternary sediments along the western flank of the range to investigate the Pleistocene-Holocene deformation field within the Min Shan region. Mapping and field observations of remnant alluvial fans of late Pleistocene age indicate that deformation within the Min Shan involved substantial (similar to 10 degrees), rapid, down-to-the-northwest tilting. The geometry of the deposits and the partial preservation of an erosion surface beneath the basin suggest that much of the modern relief of the Min Shan relative to the Tibetan Plateau is a consequence of this late Pleistocene tilting. Rates of tilting inferred from luminescence dating of interbedded loess have been remarkably rapid (similar to 10(-8) rad/yr), Similarly rapid rates of Holocene differential rock uplift are inferred from tilted lacustrine sediments in the southwestern part of the range. The range is bounded on the west by the Min Jiang fault zone, an east-vergent reverse fault, However, Holocene alluvial terraces in headwaters of the Min River are preserved across the fault in several places, indicating that displacement rates on the Min Jiang fault are

Author-supplied keywords

  • Flexure
  • Lower crust
  • Mountain building
  • Neotectonics
  • Sichuan Basin
  • Tibetan Plateau

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