Neogene uplift of the Tian Shan Mountains observed in the magnetic record of the Jingou River section (northwest China)

Julien Charreau, Yan Chen, Stuart Gilder, Laurie Barrier, Stéphane Dominguez, Romain Augier, Sevket Sen, Jean Philippe Avouac, Audrey Gallaud, Fabien Graveleau, Qingchen Wang

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149 Citations (Scopus)


The Tian Shan Mountains constitute central Asia's longest and highest mountain range. Understanding their Cenozoic uplift history thus bears on mountain building processes in general, and on how deformation has occurred under the influence of the India-Asia collision in particular. In order to help decipher the uplift history of the Tian Shan, we collected 970 samples for magnetostratigraphic analysis along a 4571-m-thick section at the Jingou River (Xinjiang Province, China). Stepwise alternating field and thermal demagnetization isolate a linear magnetization component that is interpreted as primary. From this component, a magnetostratigraphic column composed of 67 polarity chrons are correlated with the reference geomagnetic polarity timescale between ∼1 Ma and ∼23.6 Ma, with some uncertainty below ∼21 Ma. This correlation places precise temporal control on the Neogene stratigraphy of the southern Junggar Basin and provides evidence for two significant stepwise increases in sediment accumulation rate at ∼ 16-15 Ma and ∼11-10 Ma. Rock magnetic parameters also undergo important changes at ∼ 16-15 Ma and ∼ 11 -10 Ma that correlate with changes in sedimentary depositional environments. Together with previous work, we conclude that growth history of the modern Tian Shan Mountains includes two pulses of uplift and erosion at ∼16-15 Ma and ∼11-10 Ma. Middle to upper Tertiary rocks around the Tian Shan record very young (<∼5 Ma) counterclockwise paleomagnetic rotations, on the order of 15° to 20°, which are interpreted as because of strain partitioning with a component of sinistral shear that localized rotations in the piedmont.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberTC2008
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Apr 2009


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