Abstract

The Tien Shan Range in central Asia contains two late Paleozoic sutures. The older, southern suture marks the collision of a passive margin at the north of the Tarim block and an active continental margin; subduction under the latter was to the north. The younger, northern suture separates a northern Carboniferous island arc from an active continental margin developed over a south-dipping subduction zone. The subduction direction under the island arc is unknown. Mesozoic elastics were deposited over the doubly sutured orogen. Rate and energy of sedimentation waned until deposition of Oligocene conglomerates above a regional unconformity-interpreted as marking the onset of deformation induced by the India-Asia collision. Molasse deposition accelerated in Pliocene and Quaternary time, and deposition continues today as active thrusts generate relief. Paleozoic structures control the gross divergence of Cenozoic thrusts across the orogen.

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