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Northern Thailand is located in a structurally complex area between three major tectonic regimes, a region of extensional tectonics to the south and two major strike-slip zones, the Sagaing fault zone to the west and the Red River fault zone to the northeast. Cenozoic tectonics in northern Thailand resulted from the collision between the Indian plate and Eurasia. The continued indentation of the Indian plate into Eurasia caused polyphase extrusion of Sundaland and the movement of major strike-slip faults. The movement of these faults accompanying the regional east-west extension during Late Oligocene to Early Miocene initiated the formation of the Tertiary basins.

Thirty-six major faults and forty-two intra-cratonic depositional basins in northern Thailand have been recognized and delineated using Landsat TM images. More than 70% of these basins are related to strike-slip tectonics. Five basin types have been recognized on the basis of geometric and kinematic considerations. These are fault-tip basins, pull-apart basins, fault-wedge basins, fault zone basins, and extensional basins. The opening and development of these basins was influenced by the movement of NW-trending dextral faults and NE-trending sinistral faults associated with north-south shortening and east-west extension.

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