High-resolution magnetostratigraphic study of the Paleogene-Neogene strata in the Northern Qaidam Basin: Implications for the growth of the Northeastern Tibetan Plateau

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© 2017 International Association for Gondwana Research The Cenozoic terrestrial, intermontane Qaidam Basin on the northeastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau contains > 12 km of sedimentary rocks that potentially document the accommodation of India-Asia convergence and the growth of the plateau. The chronology remains incomplete, hindering cross-basin correlation between lithostratigraphic units and their further interpretation. Here we present a high-resolution magnetostratigraphy spanning > 5 km of Paleogene-Neogene sequence at Dahonggou in the Northern Qaidam Basin. Based on correlation with the geomagnetic polarity time scale (GPTS), we have dated the section to being between ~ 52 and ~ 7 Ma. The bottom conglomeratic unit, ranging from > 52 Ma to ~ 44 Ma, was deposited in high-energy environments (e.g., alluvial fan or braided river), reflecting the earliest deformation and uplift of the basin-bounding Qilian Shan fold-thrust belt in response to India-Asia collision. In addition, we identified two major increases in sedimentation rate at 25–16 Ma and after ~ 9.5 Ma and three phases of lesser increases at 52–44 Ma, 38–33 Ma, and 14.6–12.0 Ma. These increases in sedimentation rate are consistent with regional thermochronology and basin analysis studies, which revealed enhanced motion on basin-bounding thrust faults. We argue that these accelerated sedimentation rates indicate pulsed tectonism in the northeastern Tibetan Plateau. The pulse at 25–16 Ma may further relate to phases of strong rainfall linked to an intense monsoon at that time.

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Gondwana Research

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