A Cenozoic structural inversion event from transtension to transpression involving salt tectonics has been uncovered in the Yingxiong Range, the western Qaidam Basin. Seismic reflection data show that there are two common structural styles in the Yingxiong Range: (1) the positive flower structure; (2) the thrust-controlled fold at shallow depth and the positive inverted flower structure at deep levels, which are separated by a salt layer in the upper Xiaganchaigou Formation. The Yingxiong Range experienced a first stage of transtension in the Eocene, induced by the Altyn Tagh Fault, and a second stage of transpression from the early Miocene to present, jointly controlled by the Altyn Tagh and Eastern Kunlun Faults. The Eocene transtension produced numerous NW-striking right-stepping en-échelon transtensional normal faults or fractures in the Yingxiong Range. At the same time, evaporites and mudstone were deposited in the vicinity of these faults. In the early Miocene, the Eocene transtensional normal faults were reactivated in a reverse sense, and the thrust-controlled folds at shallow depth started to form simultaneously. With transpression enhanced in the late Cenozoic, positive flower structures directly formed in places without evaporites. The Cenozoic transtension to transpression inversion of the Yingxiong Range is the result of strike-slip superimposition controlled by the Altyn Tagh and Eastern Kunlun Faults in time and space.
Tectonophysics – Elsevier
Published: Jan 16, 2018
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