A new perspective on evolution of the Baikal Rift

  • Mats V
  • Perepelova T
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A new model is suggested for the history of the Baikal Rift, in deviation from the classic two-stage evolution scenario, based on a synthesis of the available data from the Baikal Basin and revised correlation between tectonic-lithological-stratigraphic complexes (TLSC) in sedimentary sections around Lake Baikal and seismic stratigraphic sequences (SSS) in the lake sediments. Unlike the previous models, the revised model places the onset of rifting during Late Cretaceous and comprises three major stages which are subdivided into several substages. The stages and the substages are separated by events of tectonic activity and stress reversal when additional compression produced folds and shear structures. The events that mark the stage boundaries show up as gaps, unconformities, and deformation features in the deposition patterns. The earliest Late Cretaceous-Oligocene stage began long before the India-Eurasia collision in a setting of diffuse extension that acted over a large territory of Asia. The NW-SE far-field pure extension produced an NE-striking half-graben oriented along an old zone of weakness at the edge of the Siberian craton. That was already the onset of rift evolution recorded in weathered lacustrine deposits on the Baikal shore and in a wedge-shaped acoustically transparent seismic unit in the lake sediments. The second stage spanning Late Oligocene-Early Pliocene time began with a stress change when the effect from the Eocene India-Eurasia collision had reached the region and became a major control of its geodynamics. The EW and NE transpression and shear from the collisional front transformed the Late Cretaceous half-graben into a U-shaped one which accumulated a deformed layered sequence of sediments. Rifting at the latest stage was driven by extension from a local source associated with hot mantle material rising to the base of the rifted crust. The asthenospheric upwarp first induced the growth of the Baikal dome and the related change from finer to coarser molasse deposition. With time, the upwarp became a more powerful stress source than the collision, and the stress vector returned to the previous NW-SE extension that changed the rift geometry back to a half-graben. The layered Late Pliocene-Quaternary subaerial tectonic-lithological- stratigraphic and the Quaternary submarine seismic stratigraphic units filling the latest half-graben remained almost undeformed. The rifting mechanisms were thus passive during two earlier stages and active during the third stage. The three-stage model of the rift history does not rule out the previous division into two major stages but rather extends its limits back into time as far as the Maastrichtian. Our model is consistent with geological, stratigraphic, structural, and geophysical data and provides further insights into the understanding of rifting in the Baikal region in particular and continental rifting in general. © 2011, China University of Geosciences (Beijing) and Peking University. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Baikal Rift
  • Rifting mechanism
  • Sedimentary unit
  • Stress reversal
  • Tectonic phase
  • Three-stage rift history

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  • Victor D. Mats

  • Tatiana I. Perepelova

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