Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Geological Sciences

Publication Date



Slip rates across active faults and folds show that late Quaternary faulting is distributed across the central Tien Shan, not concentrated at its margins. Nearly every intermontane basin contains Neogene and Quaternary syntectonic strata deformed by Holocene north‐south shortening on thrust or reverse faults. In a region that spans two thirds of the north‐south width of the central Tien Shan, slip rates on eight faults in five basins range from ∼0.1 to ∼3 mm/yr. Fault slip rates are derived from faulted and folded river terraces and from trenches. Radiocarbon, optically stimulated luminescence, and thermoluminescence ages limit ages of terraces and aid in their regional correlation. Monte Carlo simulations that sample from normally distributed and discrete probability distributions for each variable in the slip rate calculations generate most likely slip rate values and 95% confidence limits. Faults in basins appear to merge at relatively shallow depths with crustal‐scale ramps that underlie mountain ranges composed of pre‐Cenozoic rocks. The sum and overall pattern of late Quaternary rates of shortening are similar to current rates of north‐south shortening measured using Global Positioning System geodesy. This similarity suggests that deformation is concentrated along major fault zones near range‐basin margins. Such faults, separated by rigid blocks, accommodate most of the shortening in the upper crust.


This article was originally published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth


Copyright 2002 by the American Geophysical Union.