Abstract

The Altai lithospheric structure has been generally understood due to available high-resolution digital models. As a further step in modeling, we have simulated the structure of southeastern Altai as interaction of eight blocks which comprise or surround the Chuya and Kurai basins, proceeding from the basic configuration of blocks and earthquake mechanisms. Should the stresses in the system remain invariable, the western periphery of the Kurai basin will deform to let the Uimen-Sumulta fault join the Chuya (western end of Tolbonur) fault and evolve further as a single shear zone. The best fit model was one with slip along a single border fault in the middle of the area between two rheologically different terranes. This setting corresponds to a fault boundary between the more plastic Gorny Altai and more rigid Teletskoe-Chulyshman domains, which is consistent with current crustal movements from GPS data. In addition to scientific significance, models of this kind have practical applications as they highlight areas of stress buildup prone to release in large earthquakes. The new approach was applied to simulate the stress and strain patterns of central and southeastern Gorny Altai, and the models were tested against available geomorphological and seismotectonic data.

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