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©2018. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. The formation of the Pamir salient and the Tashkorgan-Yarkand River is highly debated with the ages ranging from pre-Cenozoic to late Miocene. One approach to resolve these issues is to draw support from the sedimentary record in the surrounding basins. A volcaniclastic sequence, which divides into Lower and Upper Members, was identified in the southwestern Tarim Basin. The Lower Member was transported by dilute streamflows, which likely flowed during or soon after eruptions, while the Upper Member was formed by a syneruptive volcanic debris flow. Chronological, petrologic, and geochemical data consistently indicate that the sequence was derived from the Central Pamir at ~11 Ma. The ~11 Ma emplacement of the volcaniclastic sequence provides unique constraints for the evolution of the Tashkorgan-Yarkand River and the Pamir salient. Provenance data indicate a multistage evolutionary history of the Tashkorgan-Yarkand River. The paleo-Tashkorgan River was initially formed in the piedmont of the Pamir marginal range before ~15 Ma. This river cut back into the Tashkorgan region at ~15 Ma, after which it has eroded the Central Pamir by ~11 Ma. The N-S trending upper reaches of the Tashkorgan River and the Yarkand River were established after ~11 Ma. The emplacement of the volcanic debris flow, together with regional deformation evidence, indicates limited strike-slip motion between Pamir and the Tarim at least since ~11 Ma, which refutes hundreds of kilometers offset between the Pamir and the Tarim after this time and supports an earlier indention of the Pamir salient.

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