Abstract

The net slip on the southern portion of the Karakoram fault system in southwest Tibet is estimated by restoring a piercing line defined by two key surfaces in the South Kailas thrust system, a regional counter thrust along the Indus-Yalu suture. Assuming that the thrust system is planar across the Karakoram fault, we calculate 66 ± 5.5 km of normal right slip. Documentation of the South Kailas thrust active at 13 Ma implies that the Karakoram fault in southwest Tibet did not initiate until after the cessation of motion on the thrust. However, field investigations of the central portion of the Karakoram fault system document the fault to have been active at 17 Ma and to have accumulated a maximum of 150 km of right slip. We suggest that these along-strike variations in the magnitude of slip and timing constraints are best explained by southward propagation of the Karakoram fault system. This is inconsistent with major right-lateral slip on the fault system, which was used in support of extrusion models for Tibet.

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