The Late Jurassic - Early Cretaceous tectonic evolution of SE Siberia was marked by the closure of the Mongol-Okhotsk ocean. While this geodynamic event led to compressive deformation and denudation in a wide area encompassing the North-Altay, Sayan and Baikal Patom ranges, it was contemporaneous to widespread extension from the Transbaikal region situated immediately north of the suture zone to the Pacific plate, affecting eastern Mongolia and northeastern China. In this study we review the paleontological and sedimentological data available in the Russian literature and provide new macro-floral and palynological data from the Mesozoic sediments of three Transbaikal basins. These data are used to describe the paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic evolution of the Transbaikal area in order to assess the topographic evolution of the region in relation with the closure of the Mongol-Okhotsk ocean. We establish that the Transbaikal basins evolved in a continuously extensional tectonic setting from at least the Early-Middle Jurassic to the Early Cretaceous. The associated sedimentary environments are characterized by retrogradation from alluvial fan –braided river dominated systems prevailing during the Early to Middle Jurassic initial opening of the basins to meandering river–lacustrine systems that developed during the Late Jurassic - Early Cretaceous interval. No evidence of high relief topography was found and we conclude that, while compression and denudation occurred in the North Altai, Sayan and Patom ranges, in the Transbaikal region, the docking of the Mongolia-North China continent to Siberia was a “soft collision” event, possibly involving a major strike-slip displacement that did not lead to an orogenic event implying strong compressive deformation, crustal thickening and topography building.

You do not currently have access to this article.