Tectonics of western Tibet, between the Tarim and the Indus

Ph Matte, P. Tapponnier, N. Arnaud, L. Bourjot, J. P. Avouac, Ph Vidal, Liu Qing, Pan Yusheng, Wang Yi

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560 Citations (Scopus)


A Tarim to Indus traverse provides insight into the tectonics of western Tibet. The Kunlun was the site of a Mid-Paleozoic collision. At least three phases of post-Paleozoic accretion have thickened the blanket of sediments that covers western Tibet. Sizeable parts of western Qiangtang have remained stable, however, since the Mid-Mesozoic. Since the Neogene, deformation and volcanism have been localized near the edges of the Plateau. Strike-slip motion along the Karakorum and Altyn Tagh faults has been coeval with overthrusting in the Himalayas and Kunlun. Such slip partitioning, and the volcanism, appear to result simply from northward subduction of India and southward subduction of the Tarim as Tibet is extruded eastwards by India's penetration into Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-330
Number of pages20
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Aug 1996


  • Kunlun Mountains
  • Tectonics
  • Xizang China


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