Abstract

Temporal variations in the orientation of Cenozoic range growth in northeastern Tibet define two modes by which India-Asia convergence was accommodated. Thermochronological age-elevation transects from the hanging walls of two major thrust-fault systems reveal diachronous Miocene exhumation of the Laji-Jishi Shan in northeastern Tibet. Whereas accelerated growth of the WNW-trending eastern Laji Shan began ca. 22 Ma, rapid growth of the adjacent, north-trending Jishi Shan did not commence until ca. 13 Ma. This change in thrust-fault orientation reflects a Middle Miocene change in the kinematic style of plateau growth, from long-standing NNE-SSW contraction that mimicked the plate convergence direction to the inclusion of new structures accommodating east-west motion. This kinematic shift in northeastern Tibet coincides with expansion of the plateau margin in southeastern Tibet, the onset of normal faulting in central Tibet, and accelerated shortening in northern Tibet. Together these phenomena suggest a plateau-wide reorganization of deformation.

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