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Late Miocene northward propagation of the northeast Pamir thrust system, northwest China


©2015. American Geophysical Union. Piggyback basins on the margins of growing orogens commonly serve as sensitive recorders of the onset of thrust deformation and changes in source areas. The Bieertuokuoyi piggyback basin, located in the hanging wall of the Pamir Frontal Thrust, provides an unambiguous record of the outward growth of the northeast Pamir margin in northwest China from the Miocene through the Quaternary. To reconstruct the deformation along the margin, we synthesized structural mapping, stratigraphy, magnetostratigraphy, and cosmogenic burial dating of basin fill and growth strata. The Bieertuokuoyi basin records the initiation of the Pamir Frontal Thrust and the Takegai Thrust ~5-6Ma, as well as clast provenance and paleocurrent changes resulting from the Pliocene-to-Recent uplift and exhumation of the Pamir to the south. Our results show that coeval deformation was accommodated on the major structures on the northeast Pamir margin throughout the Miocene to Recent. Furthermore, our data support a change in the regional kinematics around the Miocene-Pliocene boundary (~5-6Ma). Rapid exhumation of NE Pamir extensional domes, coupled with cessation of the Kashgar-Yecheng Transfer System on the eastern margin of the Pamir, accelerated the outward propagation of the northeastern Pamir margin and the southward propagation of the Kashi-Atushi fold-and-thrust belt in the southern Tian Shan. This coeval deformation signifies the coupling of the Pamir and Tarim blocks and the transfer of shortening north to the Pamir frontal faults and across the quasi-rigid Tarim Basin to the southern Tian Shan Kashi-Atushi fold-and-thrust system.

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