Late Quaternary Tectonic Deformation of the Eastern End of the Altyn Tagh Fault
The Quaternary activity of the faults at the eastern end of the Altyn Tagh fault, including the Dengdengshan–Chijiaciwo, Kuantanshan and Heishan faults, was studied on the basis of interpretation of satellite images, trenching, geomorphologic offset measurements and dating. The Altyn Tagh fault has extended eastwards to Kuantanshan Mountain. The left–slip rates of the Altyn Tagh fault decreased through the Qilianshan fault and were transformed into thrust and folds deformation of many NW– trending faults within the Jiuxi basin. Meanwhile, under NE–directed compression of the Tibetan plateau, thrust dominated the Dengdengshan–Chijiaciwo fault northeast of the Kuantanshan uplift with a rate lower than that of every fault in the Jiuxi basin south of the uplift, implying that tectonic deformation is mainly confined to the plateau interior and the Hexi Corridor area. From continual northeastward enlargement of the Altyn Tagh fault, the Kuantanshan uplift became a triangular wedge intruding to the east, while the Kuantanshan area at the end of this wedge rose up strongly. In future, the Altyn Tagh fault will continue to spread eastward along the Heishan and Jintananshan faults. The results have implications for understanding the propagation of crustal deformation and the mechanism of the India–Eurasian collision.
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