Abstract

The active, left-lateral Altyn Tagh fault defines the northwestern margin of the Tibetan Plateau in western China. To clarify late Quaternary temporal and spatial variations in slip rate along the central portion of this fault system (85°–90°E), we have more than doubled the number of dated offset markers along the central Altyn Tagh fault. In particular, we determined offset-age relations for seven left-laterally faulted terrace risers at three sites (Kelutelage, Yukuang, and Keke Qiapu) spanning a 140-km-long fault reach by integrating surficial geologic mapping, topographic surveys (total station and tripod–light detection and ranging [T-LiDAR]), and geochronology (radiocarbon dating of organic samples, 230Th/U dating of pedogenic carbonate coatings on buried clasts, and terrestrial cosmogenic radionuclide exposure age dating applied to quartz-rich gravels). At Kelutelage, which is the westernmost site (37.72°N, 86.67°E), two faulted terrace risers are offset 58 ± 3 m and 48 ± 4 m, and formed at 6.2–6.1 ka and 5.9–3.7 ka, respectively. At the Yukuang site (38.00°N, 87.87°E), four faulted terrace risers are offset 92 ± 12 m, 68 ± 6 m, 55 ± 13 m, and 59 ± 9 m and formed at 24.2–9.5 ka, 6.4–5.0 ka, 5.1–3.9 ka, and 24.2–6.4 ka, respectively. At the easternmost site, Keke Qiapu (38.08°N, 88.12°E), a faulted terrace riser is offset 33 ± 6 m and has an age of 17.1–2.2 ka. The displacement-age relationships derived from these markers can be satisfied by an approximately uniform slip rate of 8–

12 mm/yr. However, additional analysis is required to test how much temporal variability in slip rate is permitted by this data set.

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