Late Cenozoic deformation in the South Caspian region: effects of a rigid basement block within a collision zone

MB Allen, SJ Vincent, Geoffrey Ian Alsop, A Ismail-zadeh, R Flecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Active deformation in the South Caspian region demonstrates the enormous variation in kinematics and structural style generated where a rigid basement block lies within a collision zone. Rigid basement to the South Caspian Basin moves with a westward component relative both to stable Eurasia and Iran, and is beginning to subduct at its northern and western margins. This motion is oblique to the approximately north-south Arabia-Eurasia convergence, and causes oblique shortening to the south and northeast of the South Caspian Basin: thrusting in the Alborz and Kopet Dagh is accompanied by range-parallel strike-slip faults, which are respectively left- and right-lateral. There are also arcuate fold and thrust belts in the region, for two principal reasons. Firstly, weaker regions deform and wrap around the rigid block. This occurs at the curved transition zone between the Alborz and Talysh ranges, where thrust traces are concave towards the foreland. Secondly, a curved fold and thrust belt can link a deformation zone created by movement of the basement block to one created by the regional convergence: west-to-east thrusts in the eastern Talysh represent underthrusting of the South Caspian basement, but pass via an arcuate fan of fold trains into SSW-directed thrusts in the eastern Greater Caucasus, which accommodates part of the Arabia-Eurasia convergence. Each part of the South Caspian region contains one or more detachment levels, which vary dependent on the pre-Pliocene geology. Buckle folds in the South Caspian Basin are detached from older rocks on thick mid-Tertiary mudrocks, whereas thrust sheets in the eastern Greater Caucasus detach on Mesozoic horizons. In the future, the South Caspian basement may be largely eliminated by subduction, leading to a situation similar to Archaean greenstone belts of interthrust mafic and sedimentary slices surrounded by the roots of mountain ranges constructed from continental crust. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-239
Number of pages17
JournalTectonophysics
Volume366
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2003

Keywords

  • Arabia-Eurasia collision
  • Buckle fold
  • thrust
  • South Caspian Basin
  • subduction
  • ACTIVE TECTONICS
  • CRUSTAL STRUCTURE
  • LESSER CAUCASUS
  • NORTHERN IRAN
  • PLATE MOTIONS
  • STRIKE-SLIP
  • BASIN
  • SUBSIDENCE
  • EVOLUTION
  • SYSTEM

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