Syntectonic growth strata and implications for late Cenozoic tectonic uplift in the northern Tian Shan, China
Propagation of faults and folds in the foreland basins of Tian Shan is an important process accommodating Cenozoic crustal shortening and mountain building, but little is known about the accurate time of the Cenozoic tectonic deformation. Based on growth strata and age determination, we show that syntectonic growth strata began to develop in the middle part of Tian Shan since 6 Ma ago. Geometry analysis indicates that formation of the growth strata is associated with progressive fold-limb rotation. Formation of the growth strata is contemporaneous with the tectonic deformation in the thrusting and folding zones. Together with the remarkable increase of sedimentation rate as well as the accumulation of coarse molasse deposits, we conclude that the late Cenozoic crustal shortening and mountain building in the region initiated since about 6 Ma and lasted to the early Pleistocene, as a consequence of intracontinental deformation within the India-Eurasia convergent system.