Abstract

We present remote-sensing and field observations of an ∼350-km-long east-west left-lateral strike-slip fault (the South Hangay fault) in the Hangay Mountains of central Mongolia, an area previously believed to be deforming solely by slip on scattered, and randomly oriented, normal faults. The known dip-slip faults are shown to be short segments introduced at bends in the much longer strike-slip fault. Our observations show that the active faulting in the Hangay Mountains is consistent with the regional strain field of Mongolia and does not require, as suggested in other studies, that the faults result from stresses introduced by the locally elevated topography. Our observations help to define the active tectonics of this important part of the India-Eurasia collision. The South Hangay strike-slip fault is a potential source of large-magnitude earthquakes and constitutes a previously unrecognized hazard in this part of Mongolia.

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