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Beitrge zur regionalen Geologie der Erde 32

Alfred Krner (ed.)

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The Central Asian


Orogenic Belt

BBorntraeger Science Publishers


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BEITRGE ZUR REGIONALEN GEOLOGIE DER ERDE


Band 32

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The
Central Asian Orogenic
Belt

Geology, Evolution, Tectonics, and Models

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edited by Alfred Krner


With 109 gures and 2 tables

2015

Borntraeger Science Publishers Stuttgart

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A. Krner (ed.): The Central Asian Orogenic Belt Geology, Evolution, Tectonics, and Models

Editors address:
A. Krner, Institut fr Geowissenschaften, Universitt Mainz, and Beijing SHRIMP Centre Chinese
Academy of Geological Sciences, Beijing, China. e-mail: kroener@uni-mainz.de

We would be pleased to receive your comments on the content of this book:


editors@schweizerbart.de

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Front cover: Krner, A., The Central Asian Orogenic Belt Present knowledge and comparison with
the SW Pacic; p. 15; Fig. 1. Geological map of Central Asia showing location of contributions in this
volume. Based on Geological Map of Central Asia and Adjacent Areas 1 : 2 500 000 (2008), Geological
Publishing House, Beijing, China. Blue lines on the cover map show areas discussed in this book.

ISBN 978-3-443-11033-8

Information on this title: www.borntraeger-cramer.com/9783443110338

2015 Gebr. Borntraeger Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, Germany


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording, or otherwise,
without the prior written permission of Gebr. Borntraeger Verlagsbuchhandlung.
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Johannesstr. 3A, 70176 Stuttgart, Germany
mail@borntraeger-cramer.de
www.borntraeger-cramer.de
P Printed on permanent paper conforming to ISO 9706-1994

Typesetting: DTP + TEXT Eva Burri, Stuttgart


Printed in Germany by DZA Druckerei zu Altenburg GmbH

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Contents
Krner, A.
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Biske, Yu.S.
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Kirscher, U. and Bachtadse, V.


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Gladkochub, D.P., Donskaya, T.V., Mazukabzov, A.M.


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Wilde, S.A., Zhou, J.-B. and Wu, F.-Y.


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Wilhem, C. and Windley, B.F.
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The Central Asian Orogenic Belt Present


knowledge and comparison with the SW Pacic
Alfred Krner1A. Krner

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Abstract. This introductory paper provides a brief overview of models for the latest Mesoproterozoic to
late Palaeozoic tectonic evolution of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB) and argues that the name
Altaids, originally given to this vast terrane, does not seem appropriate in the light of modern research.
Likewise, the assumption of exceptionally high crustal growth rates in Central Asia is not substantiated
by isotopic data. There are many similarities between the evolution of the CAOB in an archipelago-type
oceanic domain and the Mesozoic to Present tectonics of the SW Pacic, in particular Indonesia. There
is as yet no convincing overall model for the entire tectonic history of the CAOB, and reconstructions are
hampered by a lack of palaeogeographic, structural and geophysical data and the likelihood that a substratial
volume of rocks generated during its evolution were lost through tectonic erosion in subduction zones.

1. Introduction

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This volume summarizes the present geological knowledge of large parts of Central Asia,
generally known as the Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB) or Altaids. Some background
information on the nomenclature is given in this introductory paper, together with some
ideas on present tectonic interpretations and unresolved geological problems of this orogenic domain. The CAOB is one of the largest orogenic belts on Earth and covers the area
between the Russian Far East (eastern Siberia), the low-lying hills in western Kazakhstan,
and the broad terrane between the Siberian craton in the north and the North China and
Tarim cratons in the south (Fig. 1).
For many years Central Asia was difcult to survey geologically by foreign scientists,
but after the demise of the Soviet Union and the opening of China for foreign research
towards the end of the last century a wealth of new and modern geological information has
become available. This began with publication of a monumental but provocative paper by
engr et al. (1993), synthesizing most of the geological data obtained until about 1990
and interpreting the Palaeozoic evolution of Central Asia in terms of one giant island arc
system. This landmark paper provoked much discussion, followed by detailed research in
many parts of Central Asia and also coincided with the beginning of modern geological
work in China that resulted in an ever increasing ood of research papers published in the
international literature. Thus, much new information has become available on such areas
as Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang Province of China, including the Chinese Altai, Junggar
Basin, and Tianshan. In contrast, large parts of the CAOB in Siberia, Kazakhstan and the
western Tianshan of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan remain relatively unknown to
western scientists, mainly because the geological literature is predominantly in Russian,
and geological research in these regions is still difcult for foreign scientists because of
logistic and bureaucratic problems.
This volume specically covers areas of Central Asia that are not well known from the
literature published in English such as eastern and southern Siberia, including the Russian
Altai, Kazakhstan, and the Tianshan of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Two contributions,
A. Krner, Institut fr Geowissenschaften, Universitt Mainz, and Beijing SHRIMP Centre, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, Beijing, China. e-mail: kroener@uni-mainz.de

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Fig. 1. Geological map of Central Asia showing location of contributions in this volume. Based on Geological Map of Central Asia and Adjacent Areas 1 : 2 500 000
(2008), Geological Publishing House, Beijing, China.

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one summarizing recent palaeomagnetic research in the southwestern part of Central Asia
(Kirscher and Bachtadse) and another syntheszing much of the Palaeozoic tectonic and
palaeogeographic history of the CAOB (Wilhem and Windley), reveal the complexity of
Palaeozoic orogenic evolution. The effect of the India-Asia collision on the neotectonic
history of Central Asia with emphasis on Mongolia (Cunningham) concludes the volume.

2. What is in a name?

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Large parts of Central Asia were geologically surveyed by the Austrian geologist Eduard
Suess at the end of the 19th Century who published his ndings and interpretations in
Volume III of a monumental series of monographs known as The Face of the Earth
(German version Das Antlitz der Erde published in 1901, English version published in
1908). Suess named this vast orogenic terrane Altaids after the Altai Mountains in western
Mongolia, NW China and southern Siberia of Russia, and he observed that this orogen
was different from those known elsewhere such as the Alps.
It was broad and non-linear and, in Suess view, predominantly contained relatively
low-grade Palaeozoic rocks whereas classical Alpine-type orogenic belts were relatively
narrow and contained large proportions of high-grade gneisses. He also noted the ubiquitous steepness of bedding and schistosity in many rocks that was different to the structures
in classical fold belts. engr and Natalin (2007) discussed the views and interpretations of
Suess and his contemporaries on the tectonics of the Altaids in detail and pointed out that
by noting some fundamental differences with classical orogens, now known as collisional
belts, Suess (1901; 1908) was the rst to recognize features of what is now known as an
accretionary orogen although he did not have the theoretical basis to explain its tectonic
evolution. It is for this reason that engr et al. (1993) and engr and Natalin (2007)
argued that the name Altaids best explains the vast terrane of Central Asia in order to set
it apart from the apparently simpler collisional orogenic belts.
The other, more common, name now widely used for the deformed domain of Central
Asia is Central Asian Orogenic Belt, a term originally introduced by Mossakovsky et
al. (1993). Krner and Rojas-Agramonte (2014) explained why this term is preferable over
Altaids for the following reasons: (1) Orogenic evolution in Central Asia began some 1000
Ma ago and lasted until about 260 Ma, much longer than is implied by the term Altaids that
restricts the tectonic history to the latest Neoproterozoic and Palaeozoic. (2) In contrast to
the views of Suess (1901; 1908) and engr and Natalin (2007), Central Asia contains a
fairly large number of tectonically complex metamorphic terranes that formed during its
orogenic evolution. Many of these complexes were previously considered to be part of the
Precambrian basement, but precise dating has shown these to be Neoproterozoic to Palaeozoic in age. (3) Although Suess correctly noted a general steepness of bedding and schistosity
in many rocks, he did not realize that this was a secondary feature, in many areas due to
Mesozoic to Cenozoic deformation, whereas the original structures were predominantly
at, and thrust-and-fold-belts are ubiquitous. Thus, Suess (1901; 1908) recognized some
fundamental differences in the geometry and structure of his Altaids compared to other
orogenic belts, but he misinterpreted some fundamental features, and the term Altaids is
therefore associated with the somewhat antiquated concept of a Palaeozoic, predominantly
juvenile orogenic domain (engr et al. 1993, engr and Natalin 1996, 2007).
Therefore, in this volume and following common practice, the various authors use the term
CAOB and generally recognize its evolution between the latest Mesoproterozoic and late
Palaeozoic except for Wilhem and Windley (2014) who restrict its meaning to the Palaeozoic.

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The Central Asian Orogenic Belt

3. How juvenile is the Central Asian Orogenic Belt?

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Several authors have argued that the single intra-oceanic arc model as proposed for the
evolution of the CAOB by engr et al. (1993) as well as Nd-Sr isotopic systematics of
granitoid rocks in Central Asia (e.g., Jahn et al. 2000a) imply that more than 50 % of
the crust is juvenile, i.e. derived through melting of depleted mantle sources and thus
implying exceptionally high crustal growth (e.g., Jahn et al. 2004, Safonova 2009, Xiao
et al. 2010a). However, this model includes a vast amount of Mesozoic granitoid rocks
that are not related to the orogenic evolution of the CAOB but are now mainly explained
as a result of plume activity (Zhang et al. 2010, and references therein). Furthermore, it
has been shown that many felsic volcanic and granitoid rocks are crustal melts and thus
have not added to crustal growth, and from this and other isotopic evidence Krner et al.
(2014) concluded that continental growth in the CAOB has been grossly overestimated.
These authors also showed that crustal evolution involved both juvenile material and
abundant reworking of older crust with varying proportions throughout the accretionary
history, and they suggested many similarities with the evolution of the SW Pacic and
the Tasmanides of eastern Australia.

4. Tectonic models and comparisons with Indonesia

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The provocative and elegant model of engr et al. (1993) for the evolution of the CAOB
from one single giant early Palaeozoic arc complex has not been substantiated by detailed
eldwork combined with petrology, geochemistry and isotopic data and as shown by
virtually all contributions in this volume. In particular, there is now good evidence for an
age progression, from north to south, and there are numerous precise zircon ages showing
that arc development began in the early Neoproterozoic and lasted until the early Permian.
The entire evolution occurred in the Palaeo-Asian Ocean (PAO), probably an archipelagotype oceanic domain, similar to the present SW Pacic, in which numerous arcs, microcontinental fragments, and ocean islands occurred, separated by small ocean basins and
subduction zones with variable polarity. Mossakovsky et al. (1993) rst proposed such
a scenario, later supported by data from southern Siberia (Dobretsov and Buslov 2004),
Mongolia (Kuzmichev et al. 2007) and the Tianshan (Krner et al. 2014). Many of the
arcs were not intra-oceanic but evolved on the margins of the numerous Precambrian continental fragments within the PAO (e.g., Krner et al. 2012). The palaeogeography of this
long-lasting oceanic domain in the Neoproterozoic to Palaeozoic is almost impossible to
reconstruct because of numerous large-scale rotations that occurred when the PAO nally
closed (e.g., Lehmann et al. 2010), and the orogenic evolution changed from accretion to
collision during docking of the North China and Tarim cratons with the southern margin
of the CAOB in the late Carboniferous to early Permian. Some of the rotational movements are documented by palaeomagnetic data (see Kirscher and Bachtadse, this volume).
Intracontinental deformation still continued into the Mesozoic after collision and partly
resulted in large-scale strike-slip deformation, displacing some of the arc terranes over
large distances (e.g., engr and Natalin 1996, Laurent-Charvet et al. 2003, Xiao et al.
2004). This type of deformation continues until today due to the collision of India with
Asia, and is documented by Cunningham (this volume).
One of the difculties in analyzing the tectonic evolution of the CAOB is the fact
that an accretionary orogen has many episodes of orogeny. Each time an arc or plateau

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or microcontinent arrives and accrets there is a regional orogeny. These orogenies are
diachronous across the entite belt, as can be seen in the present SW Pacic, and also because arcs and ocean basins had irregular geometries. These orogenic phases cannot be
correlated over large distances, and crustal shortening and contemporaneous extension
due to slab rollback were common (e.g., Cawood et al. 2009).
An important aspect in reconstructing the history of the CAOB is that much of the
crustal record has probably been lost due to extensive tectonic erosion along trenches and
subduction zones. Such crustal losses are documented along modern active continental
margins (e.g., Scholl and von Huene 2009) and must have been considerable during the
800 Ma-long evolution of the CAOB.
Many recent papers have compared the Neoproterozoic to Palaeozoic history of Central
Asia with the Mesozoic to Present evolution of the SW Pacic (Hall 2002, 2009), and the
analogy is indeed striking. The arc terranes of Indonesia are predominantly built on, or
contain fragments of, continental basement derived from the Australian continent (Hall
and Sevastjanova 2012, and references therein), and there is relatively little juvenile crust
from accretion of ophiolites and island arcs. Hall (2010) pointed out that the entire area
north of the Java-Sunda trench and west of the Philippine trench is a composite mosaic
of Australia-derived continental fragments with varying lithospheric thickness.

5. Conclusions

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Many data on eld geology, petrology, geochemistry and geochronology of rocks in the
Central Asian Orogenic Belt have contributed signicantly to new tectonic models for
this vast crustal terrane which constitutes one of the largest and long-lived accretionary
orogens on Earth. Much of the information for the northern and western parts of Central
Asia is summarized in this volume, whereas recent work in the Chinese part was published in numerous papers in the western literature. Although the tectonic model of one
single giant arc system governing the evolution of Central Asia is not compatible with
modern data, there is as yet no new tectonic synthesis of the entire orogen. Uncertainties
in the reconstruction of the geological history of Central Asia remain in a lack of reliable
palaeogeographic congurations, the likely loss of signicant volumes of crust through
tectonic erosion, unknown subduction polarities, and uncertain petrogenetic origins of
many magmatic rocks, in particular granitoids. There is also a deplorable lack of detailed
structural data, and there are hardly any modern publications with reliable cross-sections.
Finally, any tectonic model for the belt must include information on the lower continental
crust, and in view of the lack of moden geophysical transects for most areas, in particular
seismic sections, we are still a long way from a viable model for the composition and
evolution of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt.

Acknowledgements
My research in Central Asia was primarily funded by the Volkswagen Foundation of Germany (Grant
I/76399) and the German Science Foundation (DFG-Grant KR 590/90-1), and analytical work received
generous assistance from the Beijing SHRIMP Centre and the Department of Earth Sciences, Hong
Kong University, China.

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Yu.S. Biske, Geology and evolution of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt in Kazakhstan

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3. Late Palaeozoic fold belts


The development of Palaeo-Kazakhstan during the Devonian to early Carboniferous may
be described as a new phase of lateral and vertical accretion, and newly accreted parts of
the continent are described in the Russian literature as the Telbesides or the early Hercynides. Further shortening and oceanic closure led to collision with the surrounding ancient
continents of eastern Europe, Siberia, Karakum and Tarim, partly but not everywhere
leading to formation of typical collisional fold-and-thrust belts.

3.1 Accretionary types: the Telbesides and the JunggarBalkhash belt

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The geological chacteristics of central Kazakhstan between the town of Karaganda and
Lake Balkhash are generally described as the Jaman-Sarysu, Tekturmas and Uspenskoye
tectonic zones (Mikhailov 1989, Windley et al. 2007). These areas display an angular
unconformity at the base of the continental margin type Upper Devonian volcanic rocks.
This unconformity marks the end of the early accretionary phase of the Junggar Balkhash
ocean, the development of the Kazakhstan active continent margin, and the oceanward
transition of the volcanic margin, i.e. to its present position inside of the Kazakh orocline. The above tectonic zones were described as Telbesides (Bogdanov 1965, Dumler
1981, Milanovskiy 1989), a middle to late Palaeozoic fold belt. The structure was later
overprinted by Carboniferous or later thrusts and strike-slip faults. The Telbesides are
located between Kazakhstanian (Devonian) and younger Junggar-Balkhash volcanic belts
(see Fig. 1).
Ophiolites are represented in the serpentinite mlange of the Tekturmas anticlinorium
to the north of the Aktau-Mointy Precambrian massif (see Fig. 1) (Gerasimova et al.
1992). Basalts are mainly high-phosphorous alkaline with some tholeiites close to MORB
composition. These are covered by jasper, silicied tuff, and partly redeposited chert
breccias with ferriferous interlayers. The bottom of the sedimentary sequence is dated by
fossils as Tremadocian, the top is Middle Ordovician. The Upper Ordovician, along with
siliceous rocks, includes basalt, felsic or intermediate tuff, greywacke, and olistostromes
composed of material of the older layers. This marks the beginning of the accretionary
process. The earliest known arc volcanic rocks are Lower Ordovician, just to the south
they appear somewhat later in the Middle to Upper Ordovician, together with the oceanic
siliceous-basaltic strata that formed up to the Wenlockian in the southern (Agadyr) zone.
This presumably indicates subduction of oceanic crust to the north (present coordinates)
and growth of the accretionary wedge to the south (Degtyarev 1999, 2003). As a consequence, the Silurian often rests with a break on the accretionary complex, reaching
30005000 m in thickness, and consisting of conglomerates, sandstones and siltstones,
including calcareous sediments in the Nura synclinorium west of Karaganda town. In the
Upper SilurianLower Devonian, sandstones prevail, interbedded with coral limestones,
and higher in the section input of andesitic to rhyodacitic ash material occurs. This may
be understood as marking the development of a forearc terrace on the oceanward side of
the Kazakhstanian (Devonian) volcanic belt (Veimarn et al. 2005). After deformation in
the middlle Givetian, the area was uplifted and covered by a volcanic complex.
To the south, the JunggarBalkhash region is also a part of the accretionary system
that developed in front of the active volcanic margin of the Kazakhstan microcontinent

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(Fig. 9), but the evolution here was only completed in the Carboniferous. Today the region
is inside of the horseshoe of Carboniferous volcanic rocks. Part of these volcanic rocks,
located to the north of Lake Balkhash known as the North Balkhash Uplift, is characterized by a complete sequence of Ordovician to Carboniferous marine deposits.

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Fig. 9. Sketch map of the North-Balkhashian rise (modied after Degtyarev 1999). 1 Cenozoic; 2 Middle
to upper Palaeozoic, volcanic and sedimentary rocks; 3 Upper Palaeozoic volcanic rocks, Balkhash-Yily
marginal belt. 45 island arc fordeep turbidites: 4 Upper Silurian, 5 Lower and Upper Silurian. 67
accretionary wedges with ophiolites formed during: 6 Early Silurian, 7 Ordovician to Early Silurian.
C Sayak depression, CK Central Kazakhstan strike-slip fault.

Ordovician dismembered ophiolites occur in mlanges at the bottom of the sequence.


The volcanic member of these ophiolites is known as Itmurundy Formation and embraces
sodic basalts with beds of red jasper and siltstone, mostly with Darrivillian conodonts.
The overlying pelitic-siliceous sediments, no more than 300400 m thick, are dated as
middle to early Late Ordovician. Sand and silt input, with some volcanic material, were
also deposited during this time interval (Nikitin 2002), followed by coarse-grained clastic
sediments (up to 1500 m) with interlayered rhyodacite-andesite material, bentonic limestone, siliceous shale, occasionally with olistostromes. This continuity seems to be the
result of accretionary growth of the foreland (outer arc), including fragmented ophiolites,
and the Silurian here begins with conglomerates above an unconformity. However, the
Silurian and Devonian are still marine green or variegated sand and silt deposits (up to
7000 m), with minor limestones, jaspers and andesite-basaltic volcanic rocks. Ludlovian
reef limestones are conformably overlain by Devonian red marine sediments. Famennian-

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Tournaisian clastic sediments are interbedded with andesitic to rhyodacite tuff, and
this may be a result of forearc sedimentation close to the Balkhash-Yili nascent volcanic
belt.
Accretionary deformation began in the middle Visean to Bashkirian and was accompanied by the emplacement of granites (323 Ma; Popov 1996). This resulted in
depositional discontinuities in the Sayak syncline. The Carboniferous sequence here
preserved shows a regressive transition from carbonaceous clay and siliceous sediments
to greywackes with interbedded conglomerates. Thick conglomerates of the upper
CarboniferousLower Permian, with dacites and rhyolites at the bottom, were formed
during the collision stage.
Early tectonic structures in the North Balkhash area, resulting from Ordovician-Silurian
accretion, as in the Telbesides north of the Balkhash-Yili volcanic zone, are characterized by a thin-skinned thrust complex and tight linear folds, also involving an ophiolitic
mlange. The vergence is to the southwest (Degtyarev 1999). S-shaped (sigmoidal) folds
with vertical joints (Afonichev 1980) formed later in the late Palaeozoic, associated with
strike-slip faulting. The next phase of predominantly right-sided lateral movement is well
preserved owing to replacement of the anticline by ophiolite complexes in the nucleus
(see Fig. 9). Right-lateral strike-slip faults, among them the Central-Kazakhstanian fault,
form a system that is connected with general oroclinal bending of the northern Balkhash
structures and imposed upon all Palaeozoic structures, including Permian granite bodies.
The middle-upper Carboniferous and Permian formations contain angular unconformities
and, in general, are slightly deformed. All deformation was completed in the Permian
when the large Sayak syncline obtained its modern shape.
Volcaniclastic sediments of Devonian to middle Carboniferous age occur to the south
and east of Lake Balkhash on the northern slope of the Junggar Alatau Range (Sarkand
and Tastau zones; Mikhailov 1989) and characterize the younger and inner part of the
Junggar-Balkhash oceanic region. Because of the siliceous-shaly composition of the
Lower Devonian (Sarkand Formation), the age of oceanic crust here is partly Silurian and
Devonian as conrmed by palaeontological data on chert-basalt strata (Degtyarev et al.
1993, Aristov et al. 1993). Basalts and tuff sequences are very thick, and their stratigraphy
is poorly known. Limestones occur locally. All deposits are folded and were accreted to
the northern margin of the volcanic belt, which is now situated on the southern slopes of
Junggar Alatau. The accretionary complex is covered by upper Visean sediments in the
axial part of the range, but northwards all the sequence up to the Middle Carboniferous
is uninterrupted and consists of marine clastic sediments and limestones.
The late Palaeozoic folded region of the northern Junggar Alatau consists of linear
latitudinal folds, strongly compressed and overturned top-to-north, with a superimposed
along-strike foliation that is mostly developed farther south, in the suture zone on the
Aktau-Junggar continental margin. This is possibly associated with a left-lateral strike-slip
fault. In contrast, to the north (Tastau synclinorium) folds are more straight and seem to
be younger because they affect middle Carboniferous sediments. Late dextral offset by
NW strike-slip faults is also very distinct. Of these, the West-Junggar (Kokshel) strike-slip
fault forms a single system with the Central-Kazakhstan fault and can be traced east of
the town of Taldykorgan (Afonichev 1978). It shows a displacement of tens of kilometres.
The Chingiz right-lateral strike-slip system also has its southeastern continuation in the
Junggar fault, with Cenozoic tectonic rejuvenation building the modern morphology of
the Junggar Gates area.
The Zharma-Saur zone, located in the extreme east of central Kazakhstan, was accreted
to the Palaeo-Kazakhstan continent in the early to middle Carboniferous. The Devonian

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volcanic belts of Kazakhstan are intruded by granites of Middle to Late Devonian age
and are overlain unconformably by lower Carboniferous sediments along the northeastern
margin of Palaeo-Kazakhstan, now part of the left bank of the Irtysh River. The lower
marine Carboniferous is sandy and silty, turbidite-like and dated entirely as Visean to
Serpukhovian; it has probably been deposited in a back-arc basin of the Irtysh-Zaisan
part of the Palaeoasian ocean. The Char ophiolite suture is regarded to be a trace of this
lost ocean. To the west of it, in the eastern part of Zharma-Saur, Lower Visean andesites,
basalts and tuffs are exposed east of the Zharma Railway Station. Volcanic rocks are cut
by co-magmatic gabbro-granodiorite-tonalite plutons (Saur intrusive complex) and seem
to represent a primitive island arc. This magmatic type is widely developed along the
entire Zharma-Saur margin of Palaeo-Kazakhstan.
Middle Carboniferous (Bashkirian to Moscovian) volcanic rocks are more felsic in
composition (andesite-dacite-rhyolite) and are cut by intrusions of granite and granosyenite,
possibly due to amalgamation of this arc with Kazakhstan. Middle to Upper Carboniferous
rocks of the Zharma-Saur zone are locally preserved and consist of marine sandy, silty and
coarse clastic sediments with minor upper Carboniferous to lower Permian carbonates.
Younger Permian and Lower Triassic sediments are exclusively terrigenous, with some
bituminous shales and mudstones of lake origin occurring in the Saur Range (southeastern
part of the Zharma-Saur zone).

3.2 Collisional type: Southern Tianshan and Kyzylkum

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The late Palaeozoic (Hercynian in the Russian literature) orogenic belt of the Southern
KyzylkumSouthern Tianshhan (STS) to the south of Palaeo-Kazakhstan may be traced for
more than 2000 km from the Sultan-Ouizdag Hills south of Lake Aral to the eastern part
of the Chinese Tianshan (Fig. 10). The late Carboniferous to Permian collisional tectonic
structure and granite magmatism of the STS are the same as in the Uralian belt, and this
resemblance is also enhanced by the linear, Alpine-type features of both orogens. The
Junggar-Balkhash belt is the third collisional belt and occurs on the northeastern margin
of Paleo-Kazakhstan; it kept much of its accretionary fabric.
Two unequal parts of the STS can be distinguished, based on their origin and thrust
vergence. The northern part is the Bukantau-Kokshaal branch (Biske 1996, Biske and
Seltmann 2010) with south-directed thrusts that emerged as a result of collision and partial
subduction of the newly-formed (post-Silurian) Kyzylkum-Alai microcontinent beneath
Kazakhstan (Figs. 11, 12). This part embraces mountains of the Kyzylkum, Nuratau,
Turkestan-Alai system south of the Cenzoic Ferghana depression, then the Ferghana
Range with its oroclinal bends, transsected, on its northeastern side, by the right-lateral
Talas-Ferghana strike-slip fault. South-vergent thrusts here meet the Precambrian Tarim
continent. To the east of the Ferghana Range the STS comprises the Atbashi, Janyjer,
Borkoldoi and Kokshaal mountains of the Kyrgyz Tianshan, containing the highest peaks
of Han-Tengri and Pobeda and Halyktau (Harke), Erben and other ranges of the Chinese
Tianshan up to 90 longitude. The southwestern branch of the STS is located south of the
Zeravshan River valley and is known as Zeravshan-Hissar system. The primary direction
of thrust movement is more controversial here but seems to be mostly head-to-north. Apart
from the Zeravshan and Hissar-Karategin Mountains, the eastern part of the Alai Range
also belongs to this branch. A Cenozoic cover and the North Pamir thrusts obscure its
eastern continuation (Zubtsov et al. 1974, Biske 1996).

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Fig. 10. Simplied geology of the Palaeozoic Tianshan. 1 Mesozoic to Cenozoic cover; 23 Junggar-Balkhash late Palaeozoic belt: 2 active margin volcanic
belt and collision-related molasse (upper Carboniferous to Lower Permian), 3 accreted arc terranes (volcanic rocks and related formations) (Devonianupper
Carboniferous, locally Silurian), 4 Northern Tianshan: oceanic to island arc early Palaeozoic complexes, partly with latePalaeozoic cover; 56 Middle Tianshan:
5 ChatkalKurama accretionary terrane (prior to Devonian) and volcanoplutonic belt of the Kazakhstan active margin; 6 Syrdarya and Talas passive margin
sediments (Neoproterozoic to Carboniferous); 710 Southern Tianshan: 7 ErbenKymyshtala accreted arc and possible forearc complex (Devonian); 8 active
margin and rift formations of the KarakumTajik continent (Carboniferous); 9 BukantauKokshaal collisional fold-and-thrust belt: accreted arc and ophiolites,
passive margin sediments of KyzylkumAlai and other microcontinents (mainly Silurian to Carboniferous); 10 turbidites and molasse of syn-collisional foreland
basin on Tarim and TurkestanAlai; 11 deformed sedimentary cover of Tarim; 12 Precambrian basement; 13 major faults and thrusts. Granitoids are not
shown. AD are proles in Fig. 12. Marked on the map: 1 Kyzylkum, 2 Nuratau, 3 TurkestanAlai, 4 Ferghana, 5 Atbash, 6 Janyjer, 7 Borkoldoi, 8
Kokshaal ridges, 9 Han-TengriPobeda, 10 Halyktau (Harke), 11 Erben, 12 Zeravshan, and 13 East Alai ranges. N Nikolaev line, S South Ferghana,
A AtbashiInylchek, Z Zeravshan, J Junggar, and Q Qinbulak sutures. From Biske and Seltmann (2010).

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The Central Asian Orogenic Belt

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Fig. 11. Structural proles across the BukantauKokshaal branch of the STS collisional fold-and-thrust
belt. A Kyzylkum, B TurkestanAlai, C Ferghana Range, and D Halyktau (for approximate location see Fig. 10). 1 Turbidites and molasse in (a) foreland and (b) rear basins; 2 Ophiolites, mainly
in mlanges; 37 Thrust units (mainly SilurianCarboniferous): 3 greenschist; 4 volcanic rocks (a)
mixed or (b) basaltic; 5 deep sea shales, cherts, calcarenites; 6 (a) carbonates in Kyzylkum with (b)
clastic lower Palaeozoic sediments; 7 (a) clastic, mainly passive margin turbidites, and (b) basin shales
of Carboniferous age; 8 Continental crust in Tarim and Kazakhstan: (a) basement and (b) cover. 9 Collisional granites. 10 Thrusts. Proles are oriented south to north, scale about 1:1,000,000.

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The Upper allochtons of Bukantau-Kokshaal were connected with Turkestan (Burtman and
Porshniakov 1974) or the STS oceanic basin. Ophiolitic sutures are known as the North
Nuratau, South Ferghana, Atbash-Inylchek, Qinbulak faults and are usually covered
by young deposits and transformed into strike-slip faults. The Upper allochtons, from top
to bottom, usually consist of 1) metamorphic ophiolites and sediments, 2) serpentinite
mlanges, and 3) basalt sequences. Fragments of all these types occur in the suture zones.
The uppermost thrust unit consists of clastic and volcanic rocks, metamorphosed to
glaucophane, chlorite-epidote, quartz-albite-biotite-muscovite schist but partly so severely
retrogressed (Bakirov 1978, Stupakov et al. 2004). Relicts of eclogite-bearing HP-UHP
rocks occur in the Atbashi Range (Tagiri et al. 1995, Bakirov et al. 2003, Hegner et al.
2010). Long debates on the age of metamorphism in the Atbashi Formation that was
usually mapped as Precambrian (Osmonbetov 1982) did not cease with the discovery
of Silurian fossils (Khristov 1981). However, this problem is now solved because Early
Devonian detrital zircons were found there (Rojas-Agramonte et al. 2013). The basaltic
protolith are of MORB and OIB type (Shvanov 1983, Biske 1996, Gao and Klemd 2003),
and a zircon age for altered gabbro known in the same position from northern Nuratau
is 448 4 Ma (Mirkamalov et al. 2011). This is consistent with the presence of an
Early Devonian post-metamorphic cover of limestones or cherts and with pre-Devonian

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The Central Asian Orogenic Belt

1. Introduction

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The Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB) is one of the largest accretionary orogens on
Earth and occupies about 50 % of northern and central Eurasia (Fig. 1). It is situated between the Siberian, North China and Tarim cratons (Zonenshain et al. 1990, Kovalenko
et al. 2004, Windley et al. 2007), and its development lasted from the earliest Neoproterozoic to the Mesozoic.
Detailed reviews by Parfenov et al. (2001) and Badarch et al. (2002) have shown that
the development of the CAOB was signicantly more complex than suggested by previous models (Mossakovsky et al. 1993, engr and Natalin 1996, etc.) and probably
reects the closure of three ancient ocean basins, namely the Palaeo-Asian, Solonker
and Mongol-Okhotsk oceans. Ocean closure resulted in the formation of a large-scale
composite accretionary orogen (Krner et al. 2005).
There are two main contrasting hypotheses for the evolution of the CAOB. The
rst model regards the CAOB as an originally single and long chain of the Palaeozoic
intra-oceanic island arc systems and back-arc basins that were produced by continuous
subduction-accretion processes (engr et al. 1993, engr and Natalin 1996). This model
is similar to the Mesozoic evolution of the North American Cordillera and predicts the
existence of large orogen-parallel strike-slip faults.
Another view suggests that the CAOB comprises a collage of microcontinents and oceanic arcs that collided with one another and eventually accreted to the Siberian, Tarim and
North China cratons (Maruyama and Sakai 1986, Zonenshain et al. 1990, Mossakovsky
et al. 1993, Dobretsov et al. 1995, Krner et al. 2005, Windley et al. 2007, Safonova et
al. 2011). This view corresponds to models of continent and arc-continent collisions. In
general, this view looks similar to present South-West Pacic style of accretion and may
be considered as a major mechanism of large-scale orogen building.
Our review points out that each part of the CAOB had an own particular scenario of
tectonic evolution. Western Transbaikalia is a key area for understanding the complete
history of CAOB evolution. Within this area geological units covering the Neoproterozoic,
Palaeozoic and Mesozoic are well exposed and widely distributed. These metamorphic
and magmatic rocks as well as sedimentary sequences reveal traces of the formation,
evolution and closure of the Palaeo-Asian and Mongol-Okhotsk oceans.
We provide a brief description of the major features of various terranes of the western Transbaikalian segment of the CAOB, propose some hypothesis on their formation
and nally suggest a scenario of gradual growth of continental crust in this part of the
orogenic belt as a result of convergent plate boundary processes within the Palaeo-Asian
and Mongol-Okhotsk oceans.

2. Geology and geodynamics of the western


Transbaikalian segment of the CAOB
in the Neoproterozoicearly Palaeozoic
The structure of western Transbaikalia (Fig. 2) consists of Ediacaran to early Palaeozoic
island arcs and back-arc terranes of the IkatBarguzin (or BarguzinVitim) zone and
relicts of a Neoproterozoic island arc system (Baikal-Muya zone).
The Baikal-Muya zone is a fragment of a Neoproterozoic orogenic belt (Parfenov et al.
2003) resulting from early Neoproterozoic to Ediacaran (1.00.59 Ga) accretion and col-

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102E

114E

108E

Siberian
craton

Baikal-Muya
56N

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Barguzin

Ikat

Ikat
KhamarDaban

Onon

9
Dzhida

200

400 km

Baikal-Muya zone

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Siberian craton

52N

pa

Eravna

AT

Tunka

West
Stanovoy

(fragment of the Neoproterozoic


orogenic belt)

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Amurian cratonic block

The late Palaeozoic early Mesozoic Mongol Okhotsk orogenic belt


Turbidite basin

Accretionary wedge

Ikat-Barguzin zone
(fragment of the early
Palaeozoic YeniseiTransbaikalian orogenic belt )
Tuva-Mongolian Precambrian
microcontinent

Thrusts
Suture zone
International
border

Island arc
Back-arc basin
Terranes of uncertain nature

Fig. 2. Tectonostratigraphic terrane map of eastern Siberia (Transbaikalia, Russia), and northern Mongolia
(modied from Badarch et al. 2002, Belichenko et al. 2006, Volkova and Sklyarov 2007, Mazukabzov et
al. 2010). AT AngaTalanchan island-arc terrane.

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The Central Asian Orogenic Belt

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lision events. Two main phases of metamorphic and tectonic activity (accompanied by
folding) are manifested in the history of this zone, namely an early 1.000.72 Ga event
and a later 0.720.59 Ga event. Two main pulses of granitoid emplacement correspond to
0.800.78 Ga and 0.620.59 Ga respectively. The Baikal-Muya zone is mainly composed
of fragments of Neoproterozoic island-arc systems (island arcs, back-arc and inter-arc
basins, see Zorin et al. 1997, 2009, Parfenov et al. 2003). Early Ediacaran tonalites and
ultramac rocks intruded the terrane deposits (Rytsk et al. 2007a). The nal phase of
Ediacaran tectonic activity was marked by post-collisional granitoids at 584 8 Ma
(Rytsk et al. 2011).
Relicts of island-arc related associations and post-collisional granitoids of the Baikal
Muya zone are overlain with an angular discordance by late Ediacaran and early Cambrian
weakly deformed deposits (Rytsk et al. 2007a). The early Cambrian sequences are similar
in structure and faunal remains to coeval deposits of the Siberian platform. However, their
accumulation occurred on the shelf of a passive continental margin.
The IkatBarguzin (BarguzinVitim) zone unites all late Ediacaran to early Palaeozoic
terranes of Transbaikalia (see description below). This zone is located southwest of the
BaikalMuya zone and is mainly composed of volcano-sedimentary strata (Fig. 2). On
a large scale the Ikat-Barguzin zone could be considered as a fragment of a huge early
Palaeozoic Yenisei-Transbaikalian orogenic belt (Parfenov et al. 2003). Several tectonic
models (Parfenov et al. 2003, Gordienko 2006, Makrygina et al. 2007, Zorin et al. 2009)
demonstrated that the early Palaeozoic structures of western Transbaikalia include terranes
whose fragments are similar to island arcs and back-arc basins.
The Eravna island-arc terrane, according to its tectonic setting and composition of
its rocks, may be regarded as a fragment of an ensialic island arc. Its basement consists
of metamorphic and igneous complexes whose fragments are present as tectonic lenses
among the early Palaeozoic deposits. The island-arc complex includes volcaniclastic rocks
(psephytic-psammitic turbidites) that are associated with andesites, dacites, rhyolites, and
basalts. Some volcaniclastic sequences contain archaeocyathean limestones.
Basalts and andesites of the Eravna terrane demonstrate typical island-arc features
(Ruzhentsev et al. 2010). The age of major felsic volcanic and sub-volcanic rocks correspond to the early Cambrian (513 6 531 3 Ma, see Ruzhentsev et al. 2010). The
only Ordovician age (466 5 Ma) was obtained for an andesite-porphyry in the upper
part of the Eravna sequence (Ruzhentsev et al. 2010).
The AngaTalanchan island-arc terrane is located between the Ikat and Olkhon terranes (Fig. 2). A signicant part of this terrane is covered by Lake Baikal water. In its
near-Baikal zone, there are few large sub-alkaline gabbro massifs (e.g., Birkhin massif).
A Sm-Nd mineral age of the Birkhin gabbro is 530 23 Ma. U-Pb zircon dating of a
younger gabbro yielded an age of 499 2 Ma (Fedorovsky et al. 2005). These massifs
have mainly tectonized contacts with the enclosing rocks. Sub-alkaline metagabbro dykes
are located along the margins of the enclosing rocks. Geochemical parameters suggest
that the gabbros and metavolcanic rocks formed in a mature island arc environment
(Makrygina et al. 2007).
The Dzhida island-arc terrane includes relicts of several different units, namely an
ensimatic island arc with an accretionary wedge, ocean islands with guyots, and fragments
of a marginal basin. The ensimatic island arc unit contains mac-ultramac intrusions
and granitoids. Its volcanic sequence is composed of boninite-basalt and rhyolite-andesite
tuffs (Gordienko et al. 2007). Early Cambrian archaeocyathids were found in carbonate
sediments of this unit (Naletov 1961). U-Pb zircon ages of island arc gabbro and granitoids were determined at 504 2 and 506 1 Ma respectively (Gordienko et al. 2006).

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The guyot-topped ocean islands of the Dzhida terrane formed in the Ediacaran to early
Cambrian, far from the island arc (Gordienko and Mikhaltsov 2001, Gordienko et al.
2006). There are tholeiitiic pillow lavas in the lower part of the ocean island sequence.
Their middle part is composed of sub-alkaline basalts and andesites as well as carbonate
and siliceous sediments. In the upper part of the guyots occur limestones and tuffs of subalkaline mac to intermediate composition (Gordienko et al. 2006). The nal phase of
Dzhida island-arc terrane development occurred in the late Cambrianearly Ordovician.
The Ikat back-arc terrane borders the Eravna terrane from the northwest. In the basin of
the Turka and Ikat Rivers, fragments of the stratigraphy consist of weakly metamorphosed
carbonate-clastic deposits with minor volcanogenic rocks. According to faunal remains,
the deposits are of Cambrian age (Belichenko et al. 2006). A more diverse lithology of
volcano-sedimentary deposits is observed in the Selenga area where shale-carbonate,
carbonate-siliceous shale, and carbonate-volcano-shale sequences occur (Belichenko et
al. 2006). The metamorphosed mac volcanic rocks are similar in geochemical composition to back-arc basin basalts (Makrygina et al. 2007). This back-arc basin was formed on
a Neoproterozoic heterogeneous basement that contains relicts of an ophiolite sequence
(serpentinized ultramac rocks, metamorphosed MORB-type gabbro and basalt, deepwater chert). Moreover, the basement complex includes fragments of typical island-arc
volcanic rocks and sedimentary sequences (Gordienko et al. 2009). U-Pb zircon ages of
Shaman ophiolite plagiogranites were reported as 892 16 and 972 14 Ma respectively
(Nekrasov et al. 2007, Gordienko et al. 2009, Ruzhentsev et al. 2007). U-Pb zircon dating
of island-arc rhyolites yielded ages of 789 8 and 837 11 Ma (Ruzhentsev et al. 2007).
The Barguzin back-arc terrane is located to the south of the Baikal-Muya zone and
the Ikat back-arc terrane. According to Zorin et al. (2009) the Ikat and Barguzin terranes
were considered as different parts of a single back-arc basin. The terrain is composed of
metamorphosed sedimentary rocks (marbles, schists, quartzites, calciphyres) and volcanosedimentary rocks. There are also mac and intermediate volcanic rocks on the margin of
this terrane (Belichenko et al. 2006). A signicant part of the sedimentary and volcanic
rocks has undergone regional metamorphism from greenschist- to amphibolite-facies.
However, among these metamorphic rocks occur low-grade carbonate deposits that contain
Cambrian faunal remains (Belichenko et al. 2006, Zorin et al. 2009). A Neoproterozoic
protholith age was traditionally assumed for the metamorphosed deposits despite the
Cambrian age for the non-metamorphosed rocks. However, Belichenko et al. (2006) demonstrated the chemical similarity of metamorphosed and non-metamorphosed carbonates,
and this conclusion makes it likely that both kinds of carbonates are Cambrian in age.
The Olkhon-Orso back-arc terrane consists of strongly metamorphosed sedimentary
rocks (felsic granulites, gneisses, schists, quartzites, calciphyres, marbles), metamorphosed igneous rocks (mac granulites, amphibolites, ultrabasites) and metamorphosed
volcano-sedimentary (tuffs of different composition) assemblages. The metasedimentary rocks are geochemically similar to back-arc basin deposits (Makrygina et al. 2007,
Gladkochub et al. 2008a, 2010), whereas the metamorphosed mac rocks are chemically
close to island-arc and back-arc basin basalts (Makrygina et al. 2007, Gladkochub et al.
2008a, 2010).
U-Pb zircon dating of metamorphosed mac and felsic volcanic rocks of this terrane
yielded ages of 624 11 Ma (Volkova et al. 2010) and 792 10 to 844 6 Ma (Gladkochub
et al. 2010) respectively. The minimum ages of the detrital zircons from metasedimentary
rocks of the Olkhon-Orso terrane are 570, 535, and 531 Ma. These data demonstrate that
the time of deposition should be less than ca. 530 Ma (Gladkochub et al. 2008a, b, 2010,
Volkova et al. 2010).

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The Khamar-Daban back-arc terrane is mainly composed of metamorphosed sedimentary rocks (gneisses, schists, quartz-diopside and carbonate-silicate rocks, calciphyres,
marbles) that locally contain minor volcanic material (Belichenko et al. 1994, 2003).
Rare metamorphosed basalts also occur in this terrane (Vasilev et al. 1981, Shkolnik et
al. 2011). The metamorphism varies from greenschist- to granulite-facies. The chemical
characteristics of the metasediments are similar to those of sedimentary rocks on active
continental margins (Petrova et al. 2002, 2005). The metabasalts demonstrate a chemical
afnity to back-arc basin basalts (Shkolnik et al. 2011). The minimum ages of detrital
zircons from metamorphosed clastic rocks of the Khamar-Daban terrane vary from 0.90
to 0.62 Ga (Kovach et al. 2013), demonstrating that the time of deposition should be
Ediacaran or younger.
The Tunka back-arc terrane is located northward of the Khamar-Daban terrane. It may
be described as an allochthon within the Tuva-Mongolian microcontinent (Belichenko
et al. 2003). The terrain is composed of sedimentary and volcano-sedimentary deposits
that have undergone metamorphism from greenschist- to amphibolite-facies (Boos 1991).
There are some similarities in sedimentary lithology between the Tunka and KhamarDaban terranes (Shkolnik et al. 2009). The composition of metamorphosed volcanic
rocks varies from basalt to andesite and andeside-dacite. The volcaniclastic rocks of the
terrane sequence are represented by tuffs of mac and intermediate compositions as well
as tuff-sandstone (Boos 1991, Belichenko et al. 2004, Shkolnik et al. 2009). In terms of
their chemical characteristics the metabasalts and meta-andesites of the Tunka terrane are
close to volcanic rocks of back-arc basins (Shkolnik et al. 2009). Faunal remains suggest
an age of sedimentation as early Palaeozoic (Boos 1991).

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3. Early Palaeozoic activity in the Baikal area and


Transbaikalian segment of the CAOB

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Collision and accretion of Neoproterozoic and early Palaeozoic Transbaikalian island-arcs


and relicts of back-arc basins onto the Siberian craton margin led to the building of an
early Palaeozoic collision-accretionary orogen (Belichenko et al. 1994, Parfenov et al.
2003, Gordienko 2006). Strongly deformed and metamorphosed terranes were formed in
the contact zone between the craton (including early accreted terranes on the margin of
the Baikal-Muya zone) and terranes of the Yenisei-Transbaikalian orogenic belt. A chain
of such metamorphic terranes extending for ca. 1000 km along the southern margin of the
Siberian craton was termed the Baikal collisional metamorphic belt (Donskaya et al. 2000).
This belt includes (from east to west): the Barguzin, Olkhon, Slyudyanka, Kitoikin, and
Derba metamorphic terranes (Fig. 3). Four of these (excluding the Derba terrane) directly
concern this article. All metamorphic terranes listed above contain relicts of high-grade
metamorphic rocks. Recent geochronological data demonstrate that high-grade metamorphism related to the accretion-collision events occurred in the late Cambrianearly
Ordovician. Moreover, the interaction of the Siberian craton margin with the accreting
microcontinents and intra-oceanic terranes (island arcs, back-arc basins) was accompanied
by igneous activity, marked by the emplacement of syn- and post-kinematic intrusions. A
brief description of the metamorphic terranes of the Baikal collisional belt is given bellow.
The Kitoikin metamorphic terrane is traced up to 200 km to the N-W along the margin
of the Siberian craton. This terrane is located north of the Tuva-Mongolian microcontinent
and the Tunka terrane (Figs. 2, 3). It consists of various gneisses, granite-gneisses with

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114E

108E

102E
Siberian
craton

Baikal-Muya
56N
BR

Olkhon
Slyudyanka
AT

Ikat

IK

TN

ge

Kitoikin

Barguzin

ER

52N

KD
DZ
0

pa

200

400 km

Thrusts

Central Asian
Orogenic Belt

Suture zone

Metamorphic terrane

Terranes
boundaries

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Siberian craton

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Fig. 3. Distribution of early Palaeozoic metamorphic terranes in the northern segment of the Central Asian
Orogenic Belt (modied after Donskaya et al. 2000, Rytsk et al. 2009). AT AngaTalanchan island-arc
terrane; BR Barguzin back-arc terrane; ER Eravna island-arc terrane; DZ Dzhida island-arc terrane;
IK Ikat back-arc terrane; KD Khamar-Daban back-arc terrane; TN Tunka back-arc terrane.

layers of amphibolites and marbles, and metamorphic rocks of this terrane form isoclinial
folds with sub-horizontal axis oriented to the NE. A rst phase of deformation is marked
by relicts of strike slip faults and thrusts. The second phase of deformation is represented
by folding and reects transpression processes related to movement along the Main
Sayan Fault. There are no reliable data on the protholiths of this terrane. Granulite-facies
metamorphic rocks of the Kitoikin metamorphic terrane are represented by garnet-bearing
and garnet-free amphibolites that are interlayered with garnet-biotite-bearing and biotitehypersthene-bearing tonalitic gneisses and marbles. The width of the granulite-facies zone
reaches up to 56 km. P-T conditions of peak metamorphism for granulite-facies rocks
are T = 800950  at  = 710 kbar (Donskaya et al. 2000).
A U-Pb zircon age for a syn-metamorphic hyperstene-bearing tonalite is 474 3 Ma
(Donskaya et al. 2000). We consider this to reect the main metamorphic event related to

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accretion of the Tuva-Mongolian microcontinent to the southern margin of the Siberian


craton.
The Slyudyanka metamorphic terrane extends up to 30 km wide along the southern
part of the Siberian craton. It may be considered as part of the Khamar-Daban back-arc
terrane that was affected by high-grade metamorphism (Figs. 2, 3). This metamorphic
terrane consists of the Slyudyanka and Khangarul Groups (Vasiliev et al. 1981, Kovach
et al. 2013). The Slyudyanka Group is composed of marbles, calc-silicate rocks, mac
granulite and gneisses of various mineral composition. The Khangarul Group is composed
mainly of calc-silicate rocks, paragneisses and marbles.
Early deformation (rst phase longitudinal folds oriented sub-parallel to the craton
margin) could only be recognized in the Slyudyanka Group rocks, whereas the second
phase of deformation affected both groups. It produced sub-horizontal sigma-shaped folds
with axes similar to previous folds (Vasiliev and Mazukabzov 1977, Vasiliev et al. 1981).
During a third phase NE-trending cross folds were formed. These folds reect dextral
transpression along the Main Sayan Fault.
The P-T conditions of metamorphism in the Slyudyanka metamorphic terrane increase in
grade towards the Siberian craton margin from sillimanite-biotite-orthoclase (or sillimanitegarnet-orthoclase) subfacies of the amphibolite-facies to hypersthene-cordierite-orthoclase
subfacies of the granulite-facies (Vasiliev and Reznitskii 1988). P-T-conditions for the
hypersthene-free zone correspond to T = 700750 ,  = 57 kbar; for the hypersthene
zone T = 800850 ,  = 89 kbar (Vasilev et al. 1981). U-Pb zircon ages of synmetamorphic trondhjemites of the Slyudyanka metamorphic terrane are 478 2 Ma to
489 1 Ma (Kotov et al. 1997, Salnikova et al. 1998). A post-kinematic quartz-syenite
yielded a zircon age of 471 2 Ma (Kotov et al. 1997, Salnikova et al. 1998).
The Olkhon metamorphic terrane is located along the western shore of Lake Baikal
and includes Olkhon Island. This terrane is composed of metamorphosed fragments of the
AngaTalanchan island-arc terrane and the Olkhon-Orso back-arc terrane (Figs. 3, 4). The
Olkhon metamorphic terrane is separated from the Siberian craton by a collisional suture
zone that contains tectonic slices of Palaeozoic granulites and relicts of early Precambrian
basement of the Siberian craton (Sukhorukov et al. 2005).
Metamorphic rocks making up this terrane form thrust-, dome- and strike slip structural
assemblages. Evolution of the latter was related to two phases of accretion-collision in
the early Palaeozoic, namely island arc accretion (thrust- and dome-related paragenesis)
and terranecontinent collision (strike slip-related paragenesis) (Fedorovskii et al. 1995).
The Olkhon metamorphic terrane consists of sedimentary, volcanic, and plutonic
rocks, the majority of which have undergone regional metamorphism ranging from lower
amphibolite- to granulite-facies (Fig. 4) (Fedorovskii et al. 1995, Rosen and Fedorovsky
2001). The metamorphic zonation corresponds to the andalusite-sillimanite and kyanitesillimanite transition, and P-T conditions of metamorphism increase from SE to NW.
Five main metamorphic zones, increasing in grade toward the craton margin, are distinguished according to their mineral associations: (1) staurolite-chlorite-muscovite and
staurolite-biotite-andalusite-muscovite zone; (2) staurolite-sillimanite-biotite-muscovite
zone; (3) biotite-sillimanite-muscovite-orthoclase zone; (4) biotite-sillimanite-orthoclase
and cordierite-garnet-orthoclase zones; and (5) granulite zone (Rosen and Fedorovsky
2001).
The highest PT conditions of metamorphism in the Olkhon granulites were estimated
as 740880 C at moderate pressures of 710 kbar (Gladkochub et al. 2008a, Vladimirov
et al. 2008). Retrograde PT conditions (640770 C, 4.57.9 kbar) were calculated using
a post-peak metamorphic assemblage in the Olkhon granulites (Gladkochub et al. 2008a).

Kroener-Buch.indb 162

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D.P. Gladkochub et al., PalaeozoicMesozoic geology and tectonics

163

5300 N

5240 N

10630 E

Metamorphic rocks of
the Olkhon-Orso back-arc terrane

Primorsky fault scarp in the


Baikal rift system

Amphibolite-facies
metamorphic rocks
(Anga-Sakhurte zone)

pa

Early Palaeozoic collisional


suture

Granulite-facies
metamorphic rocks
(Chernorud zone)

ge

Siberian craton

Amphibolite-facies
metamorphic rocks
(Orso zone)

Metamorphic rocks of
the Anga-Talanchan
island-arc terrane

pl

Fig. 4. Generalized tectonic map of the Olkhon collisional system (modied after Fedorovsky et al. 2010).

Sa
m

P-T-conditions of amphibolite-facies metamorphism in the Olkhon metamorphic terrane


correspond to T = 650740  at  = 4.66.6 kbar (Vladimirov et al. 2008). U-Pb zircon
ages for granulite metamorphism were estimated at 485 5 Ma to 507 8 Ma (Bibikova
et al. 1990, Gladkochub et al. 2008a, b, Vladimirov et al. 2008). The age of the retrograde
amphibolite-facies metamorphic event has a range from 460 to 475 Ma (Fedorovsky et
al. 2005, Vladimirov et al. 2008). The ages of syntectonic intrusions (mainly tonalite and
granite) that are located within the granulite zone vary from 485 to 495 Ma (Gladkochub
et al. 2008a, b).
The majority of syntectonic igneous complexes are located within the amphibolitefacies zone of the terrane. These intrusions often mark large-scale strike slip zones. The
emplacement ages of these rocks vary from 458 to 475 Ma. This set of intrusions may be
represented by biotite-granite of the Aya Massif (469.0 1.5 Ma, Vladimirov et al. 2008),
alkaline syenite and nepheline syenite of the Tazheran Massif (471 5 Ma and 451464
Ma, respectively, Sklyarov et al. 2009). It is generally assumed that these syenites were
emplaced during the nal phase of the Olkhon collisional event.
The Barguzin metamorphic terrane, in contrast to the terranes mentioned above, has
no direct contact with the Siberian craton margin because it is located inside the CAOB
(Fig. 3). This terrane unites metamorphosed fragments of the Barguzin back-arc terrane
(part of the IkatBarguzin zone according to Rytsk et al. 2009). The Barguzin metamorphic
terrane is separated from the Baikal-Muya zone by suture zones with signs of shearing and

Kroener-Buch.indb 163

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eschweizerbart_xxx

164

The Central Asian Orogenic Belt


101E

102E

Tuva-Mongolian

103E
52N

52N

Tunka

104E

Ba
ika
l

Khamar-Daban

Dzhida
51N

ge

Dzhida

51N

104E

pa

103E

102E

101E

20 km

Siberian craton

Terranes of the early Paleozoic YeniseiTransbaikalian orogenic belt

pl

Tuva-Mongolian Precambrian
microcontinent
Island arc

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Back-arc basin

Terranes of uncertain nature

The Late Cambrian Early Ordovician


post-kinematic granitoids
International
border

Fig. 5. Distribution of late Cambrian to Early Ordovician post-kinematic granitoids in eastern Siberia and
northern Mongolia (modied from Reznitsky et al. 2008).

thrusting (Rytsk et al. 2009). P-T conditions of metamorphism reach the high-temperature
subfacies of the amphibolite-facies (Rytsk et al. 2009, 2011). U-Pb zircon dating of a
syntectonic granite-gneiss and a gabbro-diorite massif yielded ages of 469 4 and 468
4 Ma respectively (Rytsk et al. 2009).

Kroener-Buch.indb 164

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eschweizerbart_xxx

258

The Central Asian Orogenic Belt

of 0.1 mm1 mm/a (Prentice et al. 2002, Ritz et al. 1995, 2003, Vassallo et al. 2007a, b,
Mushkin 2011). However, the diffuse historical seismicity and wide array of faults active
in the Quaternary, and the NE-directed GPS velocity eld suggests that regional tectonic
loading may be shared by many structures, and fault behaviour may therefore be episodic
and unpredictable (Fig. 1a; Pollitz et al. 2003, Adiya et al. 2003, Liu et al. 2011).

4. Crustal preconditions for late Cenozoic


reactivation of the Gobi Corridor

Sa
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The Late Cenozoic intracontinental and intraplate mountain ranges in the Gobi Corridor
region were not constructed on a blank template but in crust with a complex crustal history
(Fig. 1b). Therefore, in order to understand the neotectonic development of the region,
the crustal preconditions cannot be ignored. The Gobi Corridor crust is sandwiched between mechanically rigid Precambrian blocks containing Archaean-Proterozoic rocks to
the north and south (Fig. 1b). Under the southern Hangay Dome region in Mongolia, the
Baidrag-Tuva-Mongol block comprises Precambrian igneous and metamorphic basement
directly north of the northernmost ranges of the Gobi Altai, whereas south of the Beishan,
the joined Tarim-North China block consists of Proterozoic and Archaean igneous and
metamorphic crust bounding northern Tibet with relatively limited Late Cenozoic reactivation in the North Tibetan foreland (Mitrofanov et al. 1985, Kosakov et al. 1997, 1999,
2007, Kovalenko et al. 2004, Lu et al. 2008, Demoux et al. 2009a). Between these old
continental blocks, the Gobi Corridor crust consists of a large number of elongate slivers
representing arc, forearc, back-arc, accretionary and ophiolitic terranes (Badarch et al.
2002, Windley et al. 2007, Lu et al. 2008, Pan et al. 2009, Xiao et al. 2010b, Lehmann et
al. 2010, Wilhem et al. 2012). Terrane maps by Badarch et al. (2002) for Mongolia and
Pan et al. (2009) for western China are combined in Fig. 1b to show the rst-order terrane
mosaic for the region. Terrane boundaries are dominantly E-W trending but more northwesterly towards the west and more north-easterly towards the east. This gently curving
crustal grain is also parallel to faults, fabrics, sedimentary strike belts and magmatic arc
trends within individual terranes which collectively dene the regional structural grain
within Gobi Corridor crust (Ruzhentsev et al. 1985, Lamb and Badarch 1997, 2001, Badarch et al. 2002, Rippington 2008, Xiao et al. 2010b, Lehmann et al. 2010). In addition,
regional dip orientations of basement fabrics and faults, especially proximal to ophiolitic
suture zones, also are likely to reect the polarity of former subduction and contractional
deformation generated during terrane collision and amalgamation. The presence of discrete
ophiolite belts in the Beishan and Gobi Altai regions suggests that up to 6 separate suture
zones occur in the Gobi Corridor region, representing closure of 6 separate Palaeo-Asian
seaways (Fig. 1b). Generally speaking these seaways progressively younged southwards
with nal closure of the last remaining seaway in the Permian-Triassic along the SolonkerHongliuhe-Xichangjing-Liyuan sutures in the Beishan region (Fig. 1b; Xiao et al. 2003,
2010). However, the relative timing of different palaeo-seaway closure events and polarity
of subduction for each are still incompletely documented and hence debated (see discussion in Wilhem et al. 2012 and references therein).
Subsequent to crustal consolidation of the CAOB and prior to Late Cenozoic crustal
reactivation that produced the modern mountain ranges, several important intracontinental
tectonic events are recorded in the Gobi Corridor region. During the early-mid Jurassic,
collision of the Qiangtang block in central Tibet caused contractional deformation in the

Kroener-Buch.indb 258

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eschweizerbart_xxx

D. Cunningham, Late Cenozoic crustal reactivation

259

pl

pa

ge

Beishan region as far north as the southernmost Gobi Altai region (Zheng et al. 1996,
Dewey et al. 1988, Yin and Harrison 2000). Closure of the Mongol-Okhotsk ocean in the
Late Jurassic was the nal seaway to close within Central Asia north of modern-day Tibet
(Zorin et al. 1999, Kravchinsky et al. 2002). In the Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous much
of the Gobi Altai, eastern Beishan, eastern Mongolia and Transbaikalia region underwent
diffuse crustal extension leading to an extensional basin and range province larger in size
than North Americas modern basin and range extensional province (Webb et al. 1999,
Khand et al. 2000, Graham et al. 2001, Johnson et al. 2001, Meng et al. 2003, Donskaya
et al. 2008b, Cunningham et al. 2009, Davis and Darby 2010). This is well recognised in
eastern Mongolia and NE China and the Transbaikalia region in SE Siberia but has only
recently become better documented in the Gobi Altai region where Late Cenozoic mountain building and clastic basin inll has overprinted and obscured the older Cretaceous
rift basin history (Jerzykiewicz and Russell 1991, Cunningham et al. 2009). This regional
extensional event was also accompanied by widespread volcanism in the northern Gobi
Corridor region (Traynor and Sladen 1995). The event is interpreted to represent a change
in regional stress eld conditions, triggered by terminal closure of the Palaeo-Asian and
Mongol-Okhotsk seaways, slab break-off and aesthenospheric upwelling and decompression melting in the space occupied previously by subducting oceanic lithosphere (Van der
Voo et al. 1999, Meng 2003).
Therefore, the Gobi Corridor comprises a Neoproterozoic to Permian terrane collage
with widespread pre-existing crustal anisotropy that was generated by initial terrane formation, terrane accretion and nal amalgamation. Crust throughout the region was subjected
to widespread granite formation linked to the prolonged history of subduction and arc
activity, and post-collisional anorogenic magmatism (Jahn et al. 2000a, Jahn 2004). Modern clastic basins in the region have a two-stage history consisting of a major Cretaceous
rifting event in the Late-Jurassic-mid Cretaceous, represented by widespread siliciclastic
continental sedimentary sequences typical of rift basins, followed by modern alluvial/
uvial/lacustrine and aeolian basin ll sourced from nearby youthful mountain ranges.

Sa
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5. Evidence for crustal reactivation


Throughout the Gobi Corridor region, thrust faults reactivated older basement fabrics,
faults and strike belts, whereas strike-slip faults commonly cut through the crust ignoring
pre-existing trends (Cunningham 2010). It is commonly observed that late Cenozoic thrust
faults strike and dip parallel to the older fabrics they reactivate (Fig. 2). In contrast, and
perhaps surprisingly, only limited reactivation of Cretaceous rift-related normal faults have
been documented in the region. This is most likely due to the near-parallelism between
ENE trending rift-related normal faults and the modern ENE-directed SHmax which
results in a very low resolved normal and shear stress on the fault plane that is therefore
non-conducive to reactivation. The exception is in the northeastern-most Gobi Altai Valley
of the Lakes Region in Mongolia where recent seismic reection data and eld studies
have revealed sub-surface thrust reactivation of normal faults and growth of several large
fault propagation anticlines at the surface (Horton et al. 2012, Constenius et al. 2012).

Kroener-Buch.indb 259

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eschweizerbart_xxx

260

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The Central Asian Orogenic Belt

Fig. 3. a Summary map showing basic structural domains within Gobi Corridor. North Tibetan foreland
contains several basement ridges with bounding oblique-slip thrusts representing limited northward growth
of the Tibetan Plateau into Archaean Tarim craton basement. Beishan consists of several sinistral transpres-

Kroener-Buch.indb 260

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Beitrge zur regionalen Geologie der Erde 32

Alfred Krner (ed.)

Sa
m

pl

pa

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This volume provides a state-of-the-art account of


the geology of part of Central Asia named The Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB).
This belt is formed by accretion of island arcs,
ophiolites, oceanic islands, seamounts, accretionary
wedges, oceanic plateaux and microcontinents
(c. 1000250 Ma ago) by similar processes to those
in the circum-Pacific MesozoicCenozoic accretionary orogens.
Also known as Altaids, this region is one of the largest orogenic belts on Earth, extending from the Ural
Mountains in the West to far eastern Siberia. It is the
product of a complex evolution lasting for more than
800 million years from the latest Mesoproterozoic to
the end of the Palaeozoic. The CAOB consists of numerous accreted terranes, and remnants of oceanic
crust that are preserved as fragmented ophiolites.
Although the broad history of this huge territory is
now reasonably well understood there are still major
unanswered questions such as the rate and volume of
crustal growth, the origin of continental fragments,
the detailed mechanism of accretion and collision,
the role of terrane rotations during the orogeny, and
the age and composition of the lower crust in Central
Asia.
Large parts of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Siberia and parts of Mongolia) treated in this volume
have only been poorly covered in scholarly western
publications. Most contributions of this book are by
Russian scientists actively involved in field and laboratory research of the CAOB and with an intimate
knowledge of the terranes which they describe and
analyse. Blue lines on the cover map show areas discussed in this book.
In view of the increasing significance of Central Asia
because of its wealth of mineral resources, this volume
is of interest to readers from all fields of the geosciences
and from academics to industry.

The Central Asian Orogenic Belt

eschweizerbart_xxx

ISBN 978-3-443-11033-8
www.borntraeger-cramer.com

Beitrge zur regionalen Geologie der Erde

The Central Asian


Orogenic Belt
Ed.: Alfred Krner
Beitrge zur regionalen Geologie der Erde, Band 32
Contributions to the Regional Geology of the Earth, Vol. 32
2015. IV, 313 pages, 109 gures, 2 tables

ISBN 978-3-443-11033-8 bound 118.

ge

More information on this title:


www.borntraeger-cramer.com/9783443110338
Also known as Altaids, this region is one of the
largest orogenic belts on Earth, extending from the
Ural Mountains in the West to far Eastern Siberia.
It is the product of a complex evolution lasting for
more than 800 million years from the latest Mesoproterozoic to the end of the Palaeozoic. The CAOB
consists of numerous accreted terranes, and remnants of oceanic crust that are preserved as fragmented ophiolites. Although the broad history of this
huge territory is now reasonably well understood,
there are still major unanswered questions such as
the rate and volume of crustal growth, the origin of
continental fragments, the detailed mechanism of
accretion and collision, the role of terrane rotations
during the orogeny, and the age and composition of
the lower crust in Central Asia.
Large parts of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Siberia and parts of Mongolia) treated in this
volume have only been poorly covered in scholarly western publications. Most contributions of this
book are by Russian scientists actively involved in
eld and laboratory research of the CAOB and with
an intimate knowledge of the terranes which they
describe and analyse. Blue lines on the cover map
show areas discussed in this book.

Sa
m

pl

pa

This volume provides a state-of-the-art account of


the geology of part of Central Asia named The Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB).
This belt is formed by accretion of island
arcs, ophiolites, oceanic islands, seamounts,
accretionary wedges, oceanic plateaux and microcontinents (c. 1000250 Ma ago) by similar processes to those in the circum-Pacic Mesozoic
Cenozoic accretionary orogens.

le
samp

page

In view of the increasing signicance of Central


Asia because of its wealth of mineral resources,
this volume is of interest to readers from all elds
of the geosciences and from academics to industry.

Borntraeger Science Publishers


Johannesstr. 3A, 70176 Stuttgart, Germany. Tel. +49 (711) 351456-0 Fax. +49 (711) 351456-99
order@borntraeger-cramer.de
www.borntraeger-cramer.de
eschweizerbart_xxx

A. Krner (ed.), The Central Asian Orogenic Belt


Table of contents
Krner, A.: The Central Asian Orogenic Belt Present
knowledge and comparison with the SW Pacic . . . . . . . 1
Biske, Yu.S.: Geology and evolution of the Central Asian
Orogenic Belt in Kazakhstan and the western Tianshan . 6
Kirscher, U., Bachtadse, V.: Palaeozoic palaeomagnetism of the southwestern segment of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt A critical review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Kuzmichev, A.B.: Neoproterozoic accretion of the TuvaMongolian massif, one of the Precambrian terranes
in the Central Asian Orogenic Belt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
Buslov, M.M., De Grave, J.: Tectonics and geodynamics
of the Altai-Sayan Foldbelt (southern Siberia) . . . . . . . . 93
Gladkochub, D.P., Donskaya, T.V., Mazukabzov, A.M.:
Palaeozoic-Mesozoic geology and tectonics of the
western Transbaikalian segment of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154

Wilde, S.A., Zhou, J.-B., Wu, F.-Y.: Development of the


North-Eastern Segment of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
Khanchuk, A.I., Didenko, A.N., Popeko, L.I., Sorokin,
A.A., Shevchenko, B.F.: Structure and Evolution of
the Mongol-Okhotsk Orogenic Belt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
Wilhem, C., Windley, B.F.: Tectonic synopsis of the Altaids of Central Asia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235
Cunningham, D.: Late Cenozoic crustal reactivation and
mountain building in the Gobi Corridor region of the
Central Asian Orogenic Belt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253
References for the entire volume . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263
Location index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 309
Subject index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 311

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Schlter, Thomas:
Geology of East Africa

2009. VII, 168 pages, 123 gures.


ISBN 978-3-443-11032-1 bound, 84.00
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1997. XII , 484 pages, 191 gures, 15 tables.


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Pe-Piper, Georgia; Piper, David J.W.:


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2002. XV , 573 pages, 288 gures, 11 tables.


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Ed.: Bender, Friedrich; Raza, Hilal A.


Geology of Pakistan

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1995. VIII , 96 pages, 7 gures, 16 enclosures .


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Piqu, Alain:
Geology of Northwest Africa

With contributions by Craig Hampton

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1995. X , 414 pages, 140 gures, 38 tables, 10 folders.


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Meco, Selam; Aliaj, Shyqyri:


Geology of Albania

Geology of the USSR part 2: Phanerozoic fold


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The anatomy of an orogen

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Geology of the Northern Eurasia
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ISBN 978-3-443-11023-9 bound, 81.00
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Hrsg.: Kulke, Holger


Regional Petroleum Geology of the
World/Regionale Erdl- und Erdgasgeologie der Erde
Part II: Africa, America, Australia and Antarctica

1995. XXII , 730 Seiten, 345 Abbildungen, 26 Tabellen.


ISBN 978-3-443-11022-2 gebunden, 120.00
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2000. X , 246 pages, 116 gures, 1 table, 2 folders.


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