To understand the origin of curved subduction zones has been one of the major challenges in plate tectonics. The Mongol-Okhotsk Orogen in Central Asia is characterized by the development of a U-shaped oroclinal structure that was accompanied by the continuous subduction of the Mongol-Okhotsk oceanic plate. Therefore, it provides a natural laboratory to understand why and how a subduction system became tightly curved. In this study, we provide the first structural observation around the hinge of the Mongolian Orocline (the Zag zone in Central Mongolia), with an aim to constrain the oroclinal geometry and to link hinge zone structures with the origin of the orocline. Our results show that rocks in the Zag zone are characterized by the occurrence of a penetrative foliation that is commonly subparallel to bedding. Both bedding and dominant fabric in the Zag zone are steeply dipping, and their strike orientations in a map view follow a simple curve around the hinge of the Mongolian Orocline, thus providing the first structural constraint for 3D geometry of the orocline. A secondary penetrative fabric parallel to the axial plane of the orocline was not observed, indicating a low degree of orogen-parallel shortening during oroclinal bending. Combining with available geological and geophysical data, we conclude that the Mongolian Orocline was developed in a period of Permian to Jurassic, and its origin was linked to the subduction of the Mongol-Okhotsk oceanic slab. We consider that the low-strain oroclinal bending likely resulted from the along-strike variation in trench retreat, which was either triggered by the negative buoyancy of the Mongol-Okhotsk oceanic slab, or driven by the relative rotation of the Siberian and North China cratons. Our results shed a light on 3D geometry and geodynamic mechanisms of large-scale oroclinal bending in an accretionary orogen.

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