Late Quaternary rates of uplift and shortening at Baatar Hyarhan (Mongolian Altai) with optically stimulated luminescence

Nissen, E. and Walker, R. and Molor, E. and Fattahi, M. and Bayasgalan, A. (2009) Late Quaternary rates of uplift and shortening at Baatar Hyarhan (Mongolian Altai) with optically stimulated luminescence. Geophysical Journal International, 177 (1). pp. 259-278. DOI

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We investigate mountain building in the Altai range of western Mongolia, focusing on Baatar Hyarhan, a NW-trending massif bounded by active thrust faults. Our primary aims are to describe how thrusting has evolved over time, to calculate late Quaternary slip rates by dating offset alluvial markers with optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and to compare these late Quaternary rates with measurements of deformation on decadal and geological timescales. Patterns of topography and drainage suggest that Baatar Hyarhan has grown in length and has propagated laterally from the SE towards the NW over time. On the NE side of the massif, the range-bounding Zereg fault appears active only along younger parts of Baatar Hyarhan; next to the oldest, SE part of the massif faulting has migrated into the adjacent Zereg Basin, where it has uplifted low, linear ridges of folded sediment, known locally as forebergs. On the SW side of the massif, only the range-bounding Tsetseg fault appears active. Using OSL, we establish ages of 223C15, 223C20 and 223C85 kyr for alluvial deposits cut by these faults. These ages are close to those of alluvial markers in the separate Gobi Altai range, suggesting that periods of fan and terrace formation may correlate over wide tracts of Mongolia, presumably under the primary control of climate. Combining our OSL ages with offsets measured with differential GPS, we calculate Late Quaternary slip rates across forebergs in the Zereg Basin and across the range-bounding Zereg and Tsetseg faults. Uncertainties in fault dip (due to lack of clear fault exposures) and burial ages (due to incomplete resetting of the luminescence clock) mean that the exact slip rates are poorly constrained. Nevertheless, the vertical displacement rates we calculate across the Zereg and Tsetseg range-front faults20140.220130.6 and 0.120130.4 mm yr22121, respectively2014are at the lower end of long-term (223C5 Myr) estimates of 0.420130.8 and 0.320130.7 mm yr22121, respectively. Vertical rates of deformation may, therefore, have remained constant over the past 223C5 Myr, but equally the late Quaternary rates might be lower than the geological ones. This possible discrepancy could be accounted for if some of the shortening has shifted away from the range-front faults onto other nearby structures. The forebergs in the eastern Zereg Basin are an obvious candidate, but they show at least 10 km cumulative shortening (which would take a few Ma to accumulate at late Quaternary rates) and cannot simply be regarded as the latest stage of outward mountain growth. The total Late Quaternary shortening rate across all three areas of faulting is 0.720132.4 mm yr22121, making up between one tenth and one third of the 223C7 mm yr22121 convergence across the whole Altai range.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: 02 - Geodynamics, Geophysics and Tectonics
Divisions: 02 - Geodynamics, Geophysics and Tectonics
Journal or Publication Title: Geophysical Journal International
Volume: 177
Page Range: pp. 259-278
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2009 13:43
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 09:55

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