—The Transbaikalian region comprises several known geologic structures: the Mesozoic Mongolia-Okhotsk orogen, the Cenozoic Baikal rift system, and the world largest Angara–Vitim granitic batholith. They all formed upon heterogeneous Neoproterozoic– Early Paleozoic continental-margin complexes of the Siberian craton. The region is subject to the influence of mantle plumes, which induced Mesozoic–Cenozoic volcanism and controlled structural and lithological changes in the crust in the early history.
Transbaikalia, which has been a scene of multiple tectonic events, is a model area for geophysical (in particular, gravity) surveys for various geological and geodynamic applications. As a novel approach, we interpret geological and geodynamic data from the region with reference to the pattern of free-air and Bouguer gravity anomalies revealed by satellite altimetry. Bouguer anomalies highlight large structures in the lithospheric mantle which were produced in the Cenozoic mainly by the activity of mantle plumes. Basaltic lava fields were confirmed to be almost coeval with mantle anomalies and to record the presence of the plume head at the crustal base. However, the origin of the Late Paleozoic Angara–Vitim granitic batholith was only tentatively attributed to the plume activity, based on gravity data. Mesozoic metamorphic core complexes (MCC) and basins that formed during the evolution of the Mongolia–Okhotsk orogen show up clearly on the map of free-air anomalies. Most of the MCC revealed in Transbaikalia coincide with oval gravity highs and border negative elongate features corresponding to Mesozoic basins.
The zone of Cenozoic tectonism stands out in the pattern of free-air anomalies as maximum gravity contrasts, with the values changing from –110 to –120 mGal in basins to + 90 or +100 mGal in ranges. This zone encompasses rift basins filled with Cenozoic or, locally, Mesozoic sediments, which jointly form a domino-like system of rhomb-shaped structures typical of the Baikal rift system and, in general, of Cenozoic Central Asia resulted from the far-field effect of the India–Eurasia collision.