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Abstract

The topographical evolution of tectonic systems, as well as the sedimentation pattern and depositional environments in the associated basins, are controlled by both tectonics and climate. In the region of the Tien Shan (Central Asia), the Jurassic–Lower Cretaceous period was marked by complex, low-intensity tectonic deformation and major climate changes from humid to arid conditions (Jurassic) to semi-arid conditions (Cretaceous). Using the sediment record in the Junggar, Tarim and Fergana basins to describe the tectonic evolution of the Tien Shan area during the Mesozoic thus requires differentiation between the tectonic and climatic influences on sedimentation. The conglomerates of the Upper Jurassic–Lower Cretaceous Kalaza Formation were commonly associated with renewed tectonic activity resulting from the docking of the Lhasa block along the southern margin of Asia. From sedimentology and sequence stratigraphy analyses of several sections in the Junggar, Tarim and Fergana basins, we reassess the main factors controlling the deposition of this formation. We show that, while some tectonic activity persisted throughout the Jurassic–Cretaceous transition, the switch from the sandy deposits of the Upper Jurassic Qigu Formation to the coarse deposits of the Kalaza Formation is largely linked to the development of an arid climate.

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