Partitioning of intermontane basins by thrust‐related folding, Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan

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Geological Sciences

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Well‐preserved, actively deforming folds in the Tien Shan of Kyrgyzstan provide a natural laboratory for the study of the evolution of thrust‐related folds. The uplifted limbs of these folds comprise weakly indurated Cenozoic strata that mantle well‐lithified Palaeozoic bedrock. Their contact is a regionally extensive unconformity that provides a persistent and readily traceable marker horizon. Based on the deformation of this marker, preserved fold geometries support simple geometric models for along‐strike gradients in fold amplitude and displacement along the underlying faults, linkage among multiple structures, transfer of displacement among folds and evolution of the folds as geomorphic entities. Subsequent to initial uplift and warping of the unconformity surface, steeply dipping reverse faults cut the forelimbs of many of these folds. Wind gaps, water gaps, recent faulting and progressive stripping of the more readily eroded Cenozoic strata indicate the ongoing lateral propagation and vertical growth of fault‐related folds. The defeat of formerly antecedent rivers coincides in several places with marked increases in erosional resistance where their incising channels first encountered Palaeozoic bedrock. Persistent dip angles on the backlimbs of folds indicate strikingly uniform geometries of the underlying faults as they propagate both laterally and vertically through the crust. Deformation switches irregularly forward and backward in both time and space among multiple active faults and folds with no systematic pattern to the migration of deformation. This distributed deformation appears characteristic of the entire Kyrgyz Tien Shan.


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Basin Research


© 1999 Blackwell Science Ltd.