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Cenozoic evolution of the eastern Pamir: Implications for

strain-accommodation mechanisms at the western end of

the Himalayan-Tibetan orogen

Alexander C. Robinson†
An Yin‡
Craig E. Manning§
T. Mark Harrison#
Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-1567, USA
Shuan-Hong Zhang††
Xiao-Feng Wang‡‡
Institute of Geomechanics, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, Beijing 100081, People’s Republic of China

ABSTRACT record two tectonic events that immediately in recent years (e.g., Matte et al., 1996; Mur-
preceded late Miocene initiation of east-west phy et al., 1997; Horton et al., 2002; Haines
Detailed field mapping, geochronologic extension: (1) high-grade schists and gneisses et al., 2003; Kapp et al., 2003a, 2003b; Tay-
and thermochronologic analyses, and pet- experienced upper amphibolite facies meta- lor et al., 2003; Chung et al., 2005; Spurlin et
rologic investigations conducted along the morphic conditions (9–10 kbar, 700–750 °C) al., 2005; Leier et al., 2007), the evolution of
southern segment of the late Cenozoic Kon- dated as late Oligocene to middle Miocene the northwestern portion of the Himalayan-
gur Shan extensional system provide new by in situ ion-microprobe analyses of mona- Tibetan orogen, especially within the Pamir
information on the Cenozoic tectonic evolu- zite inclusions in garnet; and (2) high-grade (Fig. 1), is relatively poorly understood. One of
tion of the eastern Pamir at the western end schists and gneisses were subsequently rap- the more difficult problems has been determin-
of the Himalayan-Tibetan orogen. Field rela- idly exhumed to shallow crustal levels in the ing the correct correlation of tectonic terranes
tions and cooling-age patterns in the hanging late Miocene with 40Ar/ 39Ar biotite cooling between the Tibetan Plateau to the east and the
wall and footwall of the active faults show a ages of 7.5–9 Ma. Rapid exhumation was Pamir–western Himalayan syntaxis region to
southward decrease in the magnitude of east- accommodated in part by the east-west– the west (e.g., Schwab et al., 2004) due in part
west extension along the southern Kongur striking, south-dipping, Shen-ti normal fault. to political borders, difficult access over high-
Shan extensional system, from 20 km or less Field relations and regional geologic corre- altitude terrane, and a lack of clear offset geo-
along the Muztaghata massif in the north, lations indicate that this exhumation event logic markers. This problem has hindered our
to <3 km along the Tashkorgan fault in the was related to the formation of the Central ability to determine (1) the magnitude of lateral
south. These results, in conjunction with Pamir gneiss domes, and the antiformal offset along Cenozoic right-lateral Karakorum
previously published work on the northern Muztaghata massif is the eastward continu- fault and its role in lateral extrusion tectonics
segment of the Kongur Shan extensional sys- ation of the Sares dome of the Central Pamir. (e.g., Peltzer and Tapponnier, 1988; Searle,
tem, show a general southward decrease in These observations suggest that the antifor- 1996; Searle et al., 1998; Lacassin et al., 2004;
east-west extension along the entire length of mal gneiss domes of the Central Pamir have Schwab et al., 2004), and (2) whether the
the extensional system, consistent with mod- not been offset across the Karakorum right- asymmetry of the India-Asian collision zone is
els of extension primarily driven by oroclinal slip fault from the Qiangtang anticlinorium primarily the result of eastward lateral extru-
bending or radial thrusting of the Pamir. Pet- in Tibet. Instead, we propose that the devel- sion, along-strike variations in the distribution
rologic data, 40Ar/39Ar cooling ages, and mon- opment of the Central Pamir gneiss domes of shortening, or thrust system geometry (e.g.,
azite Th-Pb ages from schists and gneisses may have been related to Oligocene-Miocene Tapponnier et al., 1982; Peltzer and Tappon-
in the footwall of the southern Kongur Shan northward underthrusting and thickening of nier, 1988; Houseman and England, 1996; Neil
normal fault along the Muztaghata massif crust beneath the Pamir. and Houseman, 1997; Cowgill et al., 2003).
Our field and analytical results along the south-

Present address: Department of Geosciences, Keywords: Pamir, extension, gneiss dome, geo- ern end of the Kongur Shan extensional system
University of Houston, Houston, Texas 77204, USA; chronology, metamorphism, Karakorum. suggest that structural features of the Central Pamir terrane, the Muskol-Sares domes, con-

E-mail: INTRODUCTION tinue across the north-striking Cenozoic Kon-
gur Shan extensional system and have not been
E-mail: While knowledge of the tectonic history of offset from the Qiangtang anticlinorium along
E-mail: the Tibetan Plateau has substantially improved the Karakorum fault.

GSA Bulletin; July/August 2007; v. 119; no. 7/8; p. 882–896; doi: 10.1130/B25981.1; 12 figures; 1 insert; Data Repository item 2007134.

For permission to copy, contact

© 2007 Geological Society of America
Cenozoic evolution of the eastern Pamir

70°E 80°E 90°E 100°E

40°N n
Tian 40°N
Tectonic Divisions MPT
Altyn Tagh Fault

Figure 2
Tajik 2 Tarim Basin
Understanding of the Cenozoic deformation Basin Pamir
history of the Pamir requires knowledge of both 3
the original distribution of markers prior to the
India-Asia collision and the mode of deforma- Son

tion during the collision. The western Hima- - Gan

Qiangtang zi

layan-Tibetan orogen is composed of several Tibetan Plateau

distinctive terranes that evolved along, or were

30°N BNS

accreted to, the southern margin of Asia dur- Lhasa 30°N
ing the late Paleozoic–Mesozoic closure of the Hi
Tethys Ocean (e.g., Tapponnier et al., 1981; m al IYS
Şengör and Okurogullari, 1991; Burtman and Fro
n tal
Molnar, 1993; Hsu et al., 1995; Pan and Bian, India Thrust
1996; Şengör and Natal’in, 1996; Yin and Harri-
son, 2000; Xiao et al., 2002; Schwab et al., 2004) 70°E 80°E 90°E 100°E
(Figs. 1 and 2). While these terranes are gener-
ally interpreted as along-strike equivalents of ter- Figure 1. Simplified tectonic map of the Indo-Asian collision zone showing major active
ranes in central and eastern Tibet to the east and structures and suture zones (after Burtman and Molnar, 1993; Yin and Harrison, 2000).
Afghanistan to the west (Tapponnier et al., 1981; MPT—Main Pamir thrust; IYS—Indus-Yalu suture; BNS—Bangong-Nujiang suture; JS—
Burtman and Molnar, 1993; Yin and Nie, 1996; Jinsha suture; AKMS—Ayimaqin-Kunlun-Mutztagh suture. Terranes of the western Indo-
Gaetani, 1997; Schwab et al., 2004), the correla- Asian collision zone are: 1—Northern Pamir; 2—Central Pamir; 3—South Pamir–Karako-
tion of these terranes is a subject of considerable rum–Hindu Kush; 4—Kohistan arc.
debate. One interpretation is the South Pamir–
Karakorum–Hindu Kush terrane correlates to the
Qiangtang terrane of Tibet (Fig. 1) (e.g., Yin and
Harrison, 2000), and this is supported by inter- the Main Pamir thrust, the region has also been kinematic link with the Karakorum fault to the
preted low magnitudes of right-lateral strike-slip internally shortened by 340 km along thrusts south (Robinson et al., 2004).
motion along the southern Karakorum fault of including the Tanymas and Pshart fault zones Active internal deformation within the Pamir
60–150 km (Searle, 1996; Searle et al., 1998; (Fig. 2) (Burtman and Molnar, 1993; Waldhör et also occurs along a series of northwest-striking
Murphy et al., 2000). A competing interpreta- al., 2001). However, the timing of this shorten- right-slip faults in the southeastern Pamir region
tion is that the Qiangtang and Lhasa terranes ing is not well determined, and much of it could (e.g., the Aksu-Murgab and East Pamir faults;
are equivalent to the Central Pamir and South be pre-Cenozoic in age. Fig. 2), which have been interpreted to link
Pamir–Karakorum–Hindu Kush, respectively, Active deformation in the Pamir is domi- with the Karakorum fault to the south (Strecker
implying hundreds of kilometers of right slip nated by east-west extension along the 250-km- et al., 1995). Slip rates on these structures are
along the Karakorum fault (Lacassin et al., 2004; long Kongur Shan extensional system in the estimated to be <1 mm/yr, indicating that, aside
Schwab et al., 2004). The latter is supported in east (Arnaud et al., 1993; Brunel et al., 1994; from the extensional structures, active internal
part by correlation of similar-age magmatic belts Robinson et al., 2004) and the Karakul rift in deformation of the Pamir is limited.
and an anticlinorium in the Central Pamir, which the west (Strecker et al., 1995; Blisniuk and
includes the Muskol and Sares domes, that is Strecker, 1996) (Figs. 2 and 3). Age constraints Central Pamir Gneiss Domes
interpreted to be equivalent to the Qiangtang from the northern Kongur Shan system indicate
anticlinorium (Schwab et al., 2004). initiation of extension at 7–8 Ma (Robinson et Within the Central Pamir terrane, fault-
al., 2004). Three kinematic models have been bounded high-grade schists and gneisses with
Cenozoic Tectonic Framework proposed to explain the active extension in the Miocene cooling ages are exposed in the cores
Pamir: (1) topographic collapse of the eastern of the east-west–trending Muskol and Sares anti-
The western Himalayan-Tibetan orogen is Pamir during growth of the Kongur Shan and forms (Pashkov and Dmitriyev, 1982; Peykre et
bounded in the north by the south-dipping Main Muztaghata gneiss domes over a crustal-scale al., 1982; Schwab et al., 2004) (Fig. 2), which
Pamir thrust and thrusts of the Western Kunlun thrust ramp (Brunel et al., 1994), (2) radial we refer to as the Central Pamir gneiss domes.
Shan (Figs. 1 and 2). The Main Pamir thrust thrusting along the Main Pamir thrust and/or The metamorphic cores experienced greenschist
has been interpreted to have accommodated oroclinal bending of the Pamir salient (Strecker to upper amphibolite facies metamorphic con-
~300 km of southward subduction of crust of the et al., 1995; Yin et al., 2001), and (3) a trans- ditions and locally preserve migmatitic textures
Tarim-Tajik Basins during the Cenozoic (Burt- tensional bend in the right-slip Karakorum inferred to be Cenozoic in age (Pashkov and
man and Molnar, 1993; Thomas et al., 1994). fault, linking late Cenozoic extension in the Dmitriyev, 1982; Schwab et al., 2004). Schwab
Initiation age of slip along the Main Pamir Pamir with extensional structures in southwest et al. (2004) interpreted the eastern margin of
thrust is considered to be either late Oligocene Tibet (Ratschbacher et al., 1994; Murphy et al., the Sares dome to be truncated by the Karako-
(Thomas et al., 1994, 1996; Sobel and Dumi- 2000). However, our previously published work rum fault, where the antiformal structures rep-
tru, 1997) or middle Eocene (Yin et al., 2002). along the Kongur Shan extensional system (and resent the offset westward continuation of the
In addition to overthrusting of the Pamir along observations presented here) argues against any Qiangtang anticlinorium (Kapp et al., 2000; Yin

Geological Society of America Bulletin, July/August 2007 883

Robinson et al.

73° E-O 74° 76° Geologic units:


nsu fa
u lt
Main Pa Q Quaternary
Marka mi Neogene
D r N
E-O Eocene/Oligocene


Sedimentary and Metamorphic units

Karakul Q
Tarim Basin K Cretaceous

Tr Trgr D
Trgr gr
J Jurassic
39° graben
Trgr P
Kon Tr-J Triassic-Jurassic


Trgr Trgr Pzgr
N Tr Triassic
Trgr E-O

C-P K P-Tr Permian-Triassic
Trgr D D
Ta C C P Permian

ha n
K Pzm
ny Ghez

m as K Trgr J C-P Carboniferous-Permian
K K fault
MuskolJ Antiform fau Carboniferous

lt Q E-O S
Pzgr J

agh f
Czgr Pz2
Czgr Sares
C-P Antiform Pzgr
D Devonian
P-Tr Pz2
-J Czgr Tr-J
P N S Silurian
t Pshart fault P
rez faul

Pz2 O
Tr E-O C Tr-J

l fa
Tr Czgr O P E-O
E-O Czgr J
Rushan-Pshart fault K Czgr
Trgr Pzgr K Pzm Paleozoic Metamorphics
P-Tr gr
P-Tr J C

Kgr C-P J
Trgr Pz2 Paleozoic basement (2)

C-P Czgr
J Tr J Q
38° P-Tr Q Pz1 Paleozoic basement (1)



Pz2 E-O C
So C-P Pz2 C Z Proterozoic basement

ut D

Kgr Kgr
Alichur fault h P-Tr Pzgr Pzgr O
NTra ern

J Czgr Cenozoic plutons

Igneous units
Czgr S

Pz2 pp Pa J J

Kgr Kgr Jgr

Q e m C-P Trgr Kgr Cretaceous plutons
irJ Czgr
Pz2 Q Jgr Jurassic plutons
Kgr P
Aks P-Tr Q Pzgr
u-M Trgr Triassic plutons

E- O J J
a ab S Pz1 Jgr P
Paleozoic Plutons
i Q
K fa ult E-O

C Map Symbols:
Z Kgr Q J
P Pzgr
D Thrust fault
So Kgr
Figure 3 K

lt Pz1 Pzgr Normal fault

n fau
a Kgr
Vakh P Pz1
Strike-slip fault
Ka fa


C-P Ka Pz 1
C-P Buried or poorly
ra ult


Fa aka
Kgr J

fault constrained fault


Tr-J Jgr

Kilik ul x

faul t Suture zone

73° P 74° 75° 76° 77°

P D Kgr t Pzm S Pz1

Figure 2. Simplified geologic map of the eastern Pamir, northern Karakoram, and Western Kunlun Shan showing distribution of lithologic
ages and Cenozoic faults (after Yin and Bian, 1992; Strecker et al., 1995; Sobel and Dumitru, 1997; Robinson et al., 2004; Schwab et al.,
2004). KS—Kudi suture; AKMS—Ayimaqin-Kunlun-Mutztagh suture; JS—Jinsha suture.

and Harrison, 2000), yielding ~200 km of offset a northwest-trending syncline (Figs. 3 and 4) Early Jurassic granites and granodiorites that
along the northern Karakorum fault. (Liu, 1988; Yin and Bian, 1992). intrude high-grade metasedimentary rocks and
gneisses in the hanging wall and footwall of the
LITHOLOGIES OF THE SOUTHERN Quaternary Units Kongur Shan normal fault, and (2) Cenozoic
KONGUR SHAN REGION Quaternary units along the Kongur Shan plutons of the Tashkorgan igneous complex
extensional system consist dominantly of alluvial (Zhang et al., 1996) exposed along the western
Sedimentary Rocks and fluvial deposits (Q1 and Q2; Figs. 3 and 4) side of the central Tashkorgan Valley.
and glacial moraine deposits (Qm). Fine-grained
Paleozoic and Mesozoic Units lacustrine deposits of inferred Quaternary age Mesozoic Units
The southern end of the Tashkorgan Valley are exposed sporadically along the northern end Triassic to Early Jurassic granites and grano-
exposes a sequence of Permian limestones and of the Tashkorgan Valley, possibly deposited diorites (Mzgr) consist of medium-grained bod-
slates (Liu, 1988; Yin and Bian, 1992) (Figs. 3 while the outlet of the valley was dammed dur- ies ranging in size from sills several meters in
and 41). The sequence consists of structurally ing a glacial maximum. Fine-grained deposits thickness to regionally extensive plutons. Plu-
higher limestones interlayered with minor slate drape the western side of the Tashkorgan Valley tons within the hanging wall of the Kongur Shan
and sandstone, (Pl), which overlie a thick slate at the southern end of the Tashkorgan fault (Ql), normal fault intrude upper amphibolite schists
unit (Psl) that dips moderately to the northeast. and they are interpreted to be loess deposits. (Pzsch1) and are unfoliated to weakly foliated
Along the western side of the valley, Permian While these are inferred to be Quaternary, no (Robinson et al., 2004). Footwall plutons are
units are juxtaposed across a north-striking fault age constraints are available. exposed primarily within the core of the Muz-
against a thick sequence of Triassic-Jurassic taghata massif and intrude quartzofeldspathic
limestone (Jl1 and Jl2) unconformably overlain Igneous Rocks gneisses (Pzgn1) (Liu, 1988; Yin and Bian, 1992).
by Cretaceous red beds (Kss) that are folded into Granitic rocks are weakly foliated along the
Igneous units along the southern end of the southeastern side of the Muztaghata massif,
Figures 4 and 5 are on a separate insert accompa- Kongur Shan extensional system consist of but are strongly foliated with mylonitic fab-
nying this issue. two primary groups (Fig. 3): (1) Triassic to rics to the northeast of the massif. U-Pb zircon

884 Geological Society of America Bulletin, July/August 2007

Cenozoic evolution of the eastern Pamir

dating of plutons in the hanging wall (Rob-

inson et al., 2004) and the footwall (Xu et al.,
1996; Robinson et al., 2004) has yielded ages
75° of 230–199 Ma, consistent with previous age
Tarim Basin
Qm assignments to the late Paleozoic–early Meso-
zoic South Kunlun plutonic belt (Pan, 1992;
Qm Youngun and Hsu, 1994; Matte et al., 1996; Xu
Kon Shala Tala Fault et al., 1996; Cowgill et al., 2003).

Kalagile Fault Cenozoic Units

Qm Qcgl 39°


Q2 Cenozoic plutons of the Tashkorgan alka-

Pzsch2 Pzsch2 Ov
an Mzgr
Mzgr Q2 Fa
line complex are exposed for ~60 km along the
ult Dgw western side of the Tashkorgan Valley (Esy and
ak Q2 Pzgn3
N Pzsch1 lak
Fa Ov Mgr; Figs. 3, 4, and 5 [see footnote 1]) (Zhang
ult Pzgn1 et al., 1996). They intrude high-grade meta-
Q1 Pzgn2 Mzgr Qm
morphic rocks of inferred Permian age to the
Ghez Fault
west (Zhang et al., 1996) and are covered by
Mzgr gn1 Quaternary deposits or cut by the Tashkorgan

0 20 km Q2 Kongur Shan normal fault to the east. The Tashkorgan alka-

Ko 7530
iya Fa

line complex consists of three rock types with


Geologic Units:
progressively younger ages (Xu et al., 1996;

Q1 Mzgr
Young Quaternary deposits

Figure 6
Pzgw Qm Zhang et al., 1996): a medium-grained diopside
Quaternary Units

Qm Quaternary glacial deposits AR 6/19/00-11

D''' syenite (Esy), (K-feldspar 40Ar/39Ar age: 52.0
Q2 Old Quaternary deposits

± 0.7 Ma), a coarse-grained granite that intrudes
Qcgl Pliocene-Quaternary conglomerates Pzgn1
the syenite (K-feldspar 40Ar/39Ar age: 18.2 Ma),
QL Quaternary loess A

and a biotite granite (Mgr) exposed along the
Qss Quaternary sandstones Q1
northern end of the complex (biotite 40Ar/39Ar
Kss1 Cretaceous sandstone Pzsch3 7509 Qm age: 11.45 ± 0.30 Ma; K-feldspar 40Ar/39Ar age:
Sedimentary and Volcanic Units

Muztaghata B'
Kss2 Cretaceous red beds Q2
11.58 ± 0.76 Ma). Geochemical analyses from
Jss Jurassic sandstone
Qm all members of the Tashkorgan igneous com-
JL Jurassic limestone plex suggest a high contribution of crustal mate-
JL Jurassic limestone rial with Sr concentrations of 1000–3500 ppm
PL Permian limestone (Zhang et al., 1996; Table DR12), and 87Sr/86Sr
Psl Permian slates ratios of 0.7094–0.7100 (Zhang et al., 1996).

Ov Ordovician volcanics Mgr

Q1 38°


Dgw Devonian metagraywacke Metamorphic Rocks


Pzsch1 Pzsch3 Pzsch3S

Paleozoic high grade schists hen
Metasedimentary Units

-ti F
Pzgw Paleozoic metagraywacke Pzsch5 ault Hanging Wall of Kongur Shan Normal Fault
D' Torba
Pzsch2 Paleozoic schists shi Fa
The hanging wall of the Kongur Shan fault
Pzgn1 Paleozoic quartzofeldspathic gneisses
consists of two metasedimentary units separated
Pzgn2 Paleozoic calcareous biotite gneisses
by the Baoziya thrust (Figs. 3 and 5) (Robinson

T as

et al., 2004): the structurally higher Pzsch1, and


Pzgn3 Paleozoic mafic gneisses and schists Pzsch4 Qss



the structurally lower Pzgw. Pzsch1 is composed of


Pzsch3 Paleozoic schists and marbles Qm Q2

an fa


pelitic schist, quartzite, and minor amphibolite.


Pzsch4 Paleozoic schists



Pzsch5 Paleozoic schist (low grade) Typical mineral assemblages in the pelitic units

Qm Mzgr
Plutonic Units

Mgr Miocene granite To

yield upper amphibolite facies assemblages of
rb quartz + plagioclase + biotite + garnet ± musco-
a sh
Eocene syenite
Mzgr Triassic-Early Jurassic granites
vite ± sillimanite ± K-feldspar. Previous studies
along the northern portion of the hanging wall
Map Symbols: PL
have shown that the unit is part of the Late Tri-
Kongur Shan normal fault Approximate or inferred

Normal faults of the Kongur

fault contact
Psl assic medium- to high-grade, high-temperature
Buried fault contact JL1
Shan extensional system
? ?
and low-pressure metamorphic terrane, which
Normal faults not associated with Lakes and rivers Qm
the Kongur Shan extensional system Glaciers Kss2 developed during Triassic-Jurassic regional
Strike-slip fault JL1 JL2
Sample locality and Qm Psl igneous activity (Robinson et al., 2004). While
Thrust fault AR 6/19/00-11
station number Figure 6 the northern portion of the hanging-wall

Figure 3. Geologic map of the Kongur Shan extensional system. For cross sections, see Fig-
ure 6. GSA Data Repository item 2007134, Tables DR1–
DR5 and Figures DR1–DR5, is available on the Web
at Re-
quests may also be sent to

Geological Society of America Bulletin, July/August 2007 885

Robinson et al.


metamorphic sequence exhibits a distinct east-



southeastward increase in metamorphic grade,

the southern portion is uniformly amphibolite

facies. Pzgw is composed of light-green quartz-

Kongur Shan Fault

rich chloritic and calcareous schists, with minor

N 40.1° W
layers of marble and dark-gray schist. Typical


schist assemblages include quartz + white mica
+ calcite ± chlorite, indicating greenschist facies

metamorphic conditions.

Footwall of the Kongur Shan and Tahman
Normal Faults

Figure 6. Geologic cross sections from Figure 3. (A) Cross section along A–A′. (B) Cross section along B–B′. (C) Cross section along C–C′.
High-grade metamorphic rocks in the foot-

wall of the Kongur Shan and Tahman normal

faults are composed of two main units: a struc-

turally lower unit of quartzofeldspathic gneisses
Kongur Shan Fault

(Pzgn1) and a structurally higher metasedimen-
tary unit (Pzsch3) (Figs. 3, 5, and 6). The gneiss
unit exhibits well-developed compositional

N 5.6° E

banding (Fig. 7A) with assemblages of quartz

Pz gn
+ plagioclase + biotite ± hornblende ± garnet

± K-feldspar (Fig. 8A). The overlying Pzsch3 is

tens of meters thick along the western flank of
N 83.9° E

the Muztaghata massif, but it is at least 10 km


thick south of Muztaghata (Figs. 5 and 6C).


Pzsch3 is composed of interlayered pelitic schist,


mafic schist, marble, and calc-silicate. Pelitic


schists in the footwall of the Kongur Shan and





Elevation (km)
Tahman normal faults preserve primary meta-
morphic assemblages of quartz + biotite + kya-

nite + garnet + plagioclase + K-feldspar within


the structurally deepest levels (Fig. 8B). Trace

fibrolitic sillimanite is often observed in kyanite-
Shen-ti Fault

bearing samples, but it becomes more abundant

at higher structural levels along with the appear-



Torbashi Fault

ance of muscovite. Migmatitic textures are


common in the basal part of the pelitic schists,

N 3.6° E

indicating widespread partial melting through


Pz s
muscovite dehydration (Fig. 7B). Thermobaro- ?

metric calculations from electron microprobe


analyses of a garnet-kyanite-K-feldspar–bear-



ing schist yield peak metamorphic conditions of Elevation (km)

9–10 kbar, 700–750 °C (Table DR2, Fig. DR1,


see footnote 1) using GRAIL (Garnet-Rutile-


Illmenite-Al2SiO5-Quartz) and GASP (Garnet-


Plagioclase-Quartz-Al2SiO5) equilibria (Bohlen

Kongur Shan Fault

and Liotta, 1986; Koziol and Newton, 1988),

Kongur Shan Fault

(D) Cross section along D–D′–D″–D′′′.

z gn1

garnet-biotite Fe-Mg exchange, and THERMO-



CALC 2.7 (Powell et al., 1998). The calculated


peak metamorphic conditions are consistent

Eastern Pamir Detachment

with the presence of metamorphic K-feldspar,


kyanite, and migmatitic textures. As kyanite

Tahman Fault

is the aluminosilicate phase coexisting with

K-feldspar in many samples, partial melting
8 Tashkorgan Fault
N 74.9° E

appears to have begun during peak metamor-


N 42° E

phic conditions rather than during exhumation.



Hanging Wall of Tashkorgan Normal Fault


Along the east-flowing portion of the







Elevation (km) Elevation (km)

Tashkorgan River, upper amphibolite facies

886 Geological Society of America Bulletin, July/August 2007

Cenozoic evolution of the eastern Pamir


South North

Figure 7. Gneisses of (A) Pzgn1 showing typical layering between the quartzofeldspathic gneisses and biotite-hornblende–rich gneisses in
the core of the Muztaghata massif. (B) Pzsch3 showing migmatitic textures in the high-grade pelitic schists. Lens cap for scale. (C) Looking
east at south-dipping Pzsch3 at the southern tip of the Kongur Shan normal fault along the Tashkorgan River. (D) Looking west at Pzsch3
immediately north of the Shen-ti fault. Asymmetric boudinage of a quartz vein shows top-south sense of shear. Rock hammer for scale.
Qtz—quartz; Chl—chlorite; Act—actinolite; Plg—plagioclase; Ky—kyanite; Grt—garnet.

A C East
S Ky

Figure 8. Photomicrographs of
metamorphic units along the south-
ern Kongur Shan extensional sys-
tem. (A) Mylonitic schist of Pzsch3
from the western flank of Muz-
taghata with top-to-the-west sense
1 mm
Qtz 1 mm of shear. Outcrop is ~200 m high.
(B) Garnet-kyanite-K-feldspar
C South
D assemblage of Pzsch3 from sample
AR7/7/00-7a. (C) Mylonitic S-C
fabric in quartz-rich schist from
Chl Pzsch4 showing top-to-the-south
S Act sense of shear. Relief is ~800 m.
(D) Mafic schist from Pzsch4 with
actinolite crosscutting foliation.

1 mm 1mm 1 mm

Geological Society of America Bulletin, July/August 2007 887

Robinson et al.

schists and quartzofeldspathic gneisses from the are mylonitic schists and high-grade gneisses Tashkorgan Valley, strikes N25°E along the
footwall of the Kongur Shan normal fault are with west-plunging stretching mineral linea- northern two-thirds of the fault and N5°E along
juxtaposed against structurally higher medium- tions. Kinematic indicators such as S-C fabrics the southern third of the fault, and dips steeply
grade schists of Pzsch4 (Figs. 3 and 5). Pzsch4 is and rotated quartz pods show top-to-the-west to the west-northwest (Fig. 5). Quaternary
composed of interlayered quartz-rich, calcare- sense of shear (Figs. 7A). Mylonitic fabrics die activity along the fault is demonstrated by well-
ous, and mafic schists. Mafic schists consist of out ~200 m below the fault surface at deeper preserved 1–2-m-high fault scarps that cut Qua-
chlorite + quartz + epidote ± actinolite ± calcite structural levels and are also absent along the ternary alluvial deposits. Maximum local relief
(Figs. 8C and 8D), indicating greenschist facies southern flank of Muztaghata. Foliations in the in the footwall of ~500 m suggests low mag-
metamorphic conditions. Actinolite porphyrob- schists and gneisses and compositional band- nitudes of offset across the fault. The Tahman
lasts crosscut the foliation in several samples, ing in the gneisses are generally parallel to the fault is interpreted to be a transfer structure,
suggesting postdeformation peak metamorphic slope of the western mountain flank of the Muz- linking the west-dipping Kongur Shan normal
conditions (Fig. 8D). Pzsch4 continues to the taghata massif, dipping ~30° west and increas- fault and the east-dipping Tashkorgan normal
southeast, where it is exposed along the eastern ing to ~60° southwest along the southern flank fault. As with the southern end of the Kongur
side of the Wuqa Valley (Figs. 3 and 4). of the massif (Figs. 5, 6A, and 6B). The 30° dip Shan normal fault, footwall structures and fab-
Structurally above the greenschist facies schists of the mylonitic foliations along the western rics in the high-grade schists and gneisses are
of Pzsch4 and exposed between the Tashkorgan Muztaghata flank is interpreted to be subparallel truncated at a high angle by the Tahman fault
Valley and Wuqa Valley are high-grade schists of to the dip of the Kongur Shan normal fault. and show no relation to the active structure.
Pzsch5 (Figs. 5–6). Pzsch5 consists of pelitic schists Foliations within the Muztaghata massif Mineral lineations and shear sense indicators in
and quartzofeldspathic gneisses intruded by define a west-northwest–trending antiform, with the metamorphic rocks trend generally north-
small bodies of undeformed to mylonitic gran- a gently dipping northern limb and a moderately south and are top-to-the-south, respectively.
ite. Metamorphic grade in the unit decreases to dipping southern limb (Figs. 5 and 6D). Field
the south from upper amphibolite facies (garnet observations in the eastern core of the massif Muztaghata Dome
± sillimanite ± kyanite ± K-feldspar) to green- indicate the foliation rotates to the east from North-south cross sections through the foot-
schist (garnet + biotite) facies. west-dipping to subhorizontal (Figs. 6A and wall of the Kongur Shan and the Tahman nor-
6B). This is notably different from the structure mal faults (Figs. 8C and 8D) show that the high-
STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY OF THE of the Kongur Shan gneiss dome to the north grade schists and gneisses of Pzsch3 and Pzgn1
SOUTHERN KONGUR SHAN (Brunel et al., 1994; Robinson et al., 2004), define a large upright to slightly overturned
where foliations define a north-northwest–trend- south-vergent antiform with the west-plung-
Kongur Shan Extensional System ing, north-plunging dome, with the axis subpar- ing domal structure of the Muztaghata massif
allel to the strike of the Kongur Shan normal described above as defining the hinge of the
From north to south, the 250-km-long Kongur fault and steeply (>70°) east-dipping foliations structure. Since the active Kongur Shan and Tah-
Shan extensional system consists of the Muji along the eastern limb of the dome. man normal faults clearly crosscut the southern
fault, Kongur Shan normal fault, Tahman nor- The Kongur Shan normal fault continues for limb of this antiform, the domal structure of the
mal fault, and Tashkorgan normal fault (Figs. 2 ~20 km south of the Tagamansu Valley before Muztaghata massif is interpreted to largely pre-
and 3) (Robinson et al., 2004). The geology of terminating at the Tashkorgan River (Fig. 5). date the initiation of east-west extension along
the northern portion of the extensional system Along this segment of the fault, the internal the Kongur Shan extensional system.
including the Muji fault and the northern seg- structure of the footwall changes significantly:
ment of the Kongur normal fault has been previ- Footwall foliations and compositional layering Tashkorgan Normal Fault
ously described by Arnaud et al. (1993), Brunel change from orientations subparallel to the strike The 75-km-long Tashkorgan normal fault is
et al. (1994), and Robinson et al. (2004). Here, of the Kongur Shan fault to highly oblique. At the the southernmost segment of the Kongur Shan
we describe the structures along the central and southern tip of the Kongur Shan fault, foliations extensional system. The fault strikes north to
southern segments of the Kongur Shan exten- are perpendicular to the fault, striking east-west north-northwest, dips steeply to the east, and
sional system. Together with previously pub- and dipping moderately to the south (Figs. 5 and bounds the western side of the Tashkorgan
lished work, our new results provide a coherent 7C). Mylonitic fabrics and stretching lineations Valley (Figs. 3 and 4). Expression of the fault
view of the overall structural framework of the are abundant in the southern exposures of Pzsch3, is variable along strike: North of the junction
Kongur Shan extensional system. with generally south-plunging orientations and with the Tahman normal fault along the gently
top-to-the-south sense of shear (Fig. 7D). The sloping western side of the valley, interpretation
Southern Kongur Shan Normal Fault contact between footwall units Pzgn and Pzsch3 of satellite images shows that the Tashkorgan
The Kongur Shan normal fault is generally is cut at a high angle by the Kongur Shan nor- normal fault consists of several discontinuous
north-striking south of the Kongur Shan massif, mal fault and continues across the fault into the faults 5–10 km in length (Fig. 3). South of the
but it becomes highly convex to the west along footwall of the Tahman normal fault with little juncture with the Tahman fault, the Tashkorgan
the western margin of the Muztaghata massif or no observable offset (Fig. 5). This is the only normal fault becomes a prominent morphologic
(Figs. 3 and 5). While the location of the fault place along the trace of the Kongur Shan normal feature, bounding the western side of the valley
is easy to determine in the field within a few fault where rock units can be mapped across the (Figs. 3 and 4), with well-developed triangular
meters and by satellite images, the fault trace structure, supporting the observation that the facets along the eastern flank of the mountain
itself is commonly buried under glacial deposits fault terminates in this area. range. The Tashkorgan fault is well defined for
and other Quaternary debris and was not directly another 30 km to the south, while topographic
observed. Along the western flank of the Muz- Tahman Normal Fault relief of the footwall decreases. At its southern
taghata massif, a 5–10-m-thick zone of chloritic The 20-km-long Tahman normal fault tip, the fault branches into two smaller faults,
breccia is present, immediately beneath which cuts obliquely across the northern end of the which form scarps with ~100 m of offset within

888 Geological Society of America Bulletin, July/August 2007

Cenozoic evolution of the eastern Pamir

a loess-covered region (Ql) on the western side within the quartzofeldspathic gneisses are mod- thrust, where the high-grade rocks of Pzsch5 form
of the Tashkorgan Valley (Fig. 4). Offset of the erately to highly oblique to the orientation of the a large synformal klippe.
loess dies out to the south over a distance of Shen-ti fault (Fig. 5). Kinematic indicators in
~10 km, and the Tashkorgan fault is interpreted the southern exposures of the high-grade schists GEOCHRONOLOGY AND
to terminate without linking to structures further show top-to-the-south sense of ductile shear THERMOCHRONOLOGY
south. An 40Ar/39Ar K-feldspar cooling age from adjacent to the Shen-ti fault (Fig. 7D), while
the syenite in the northern footwall of the Tash- mylonitic S-C fabrics within the calcareous and In order to better understand the tectonic evo-
korgan normal fault of 54 Ma (Xu et al., 1996) mafic schists in the hanging wall of the Shen-ti lution of the southern Kongur Shan region, we
indicates temperatures below 150 °C since the fault also show top-to-the-south sense of shear used several techniques to determine the timing
early Eocene, indicating ≤5 km of exhuma- (Fig. 8C). Top-to-the-south shear sense indica- of igneous activity, high-grade metamorphism,
tion due to late Cenozoic east-west extension tors and the juxtaposition of high-grade rocks and exhumation of the various units. These
(assuming a geothermal gradient of 30 °C/km). in the footwall against lower-grade rocks in the included U-Pb isotopic analyses of individual
hanging wall all suggest that the Shen-ti fault is zircon grains and in situ Th-Pb isotopic analyses
Kalaqigu Fault a top-to-the-south normal fault. The east-west of individual monazite grains using the UCLA
change in footwall units and fabric orienta- CAMECA IMS 1270 ion microprobe, and
Directly along strike south of the southern tions suggests that the brittle Shen-ti fault cuts Ar/39Ar step-heating analyses of biotite and
termination of the Tashkorgan fault, a north- obliquely through the footwall, exposing struc- muscovite separates from numerous samples.
south–striking subvertical gouge zone, 40–50 m turally deeper (and non-mylonitic) portions of Analytical procedures for the various techniques
thick, called the Kalaqigu fault, separates beige the footwall to the east (Fig. 5). are the same as those described in Robinson et
to gray Jurassic marbles to the west from Per- al. (2004) and references therein.
mian slates to the east (Fig. 4). No clear kine- Torbashi Thrust
matic indicators were found within the gouge U-Pb Zircon Geochronology
zone, and no offset features were identified to Immediately south of the Shen-ti fault, green-
determine a sense of shear. While the Kalaqigu schist facies calcareous and mafic schists of Cenozoic Biotite Granite
fault is in the correct orientation to link the active Pzsch4 are juxtaposed against upper amphibolite Twenty-seven zircon grains from three
Kongur Shan extensional system to the north facies schists of Pzsch5, indicating the presence of samples (AY8/21/99–8, AY8/23/99–3, and
and the Karakorum fault to the south, as has a fault we call the Torbashi fault (Figs. 3–4). The AR4/27/00–10) were analyzed from the large
been previously proposed (Arnaud et al., 1993; contact between Pzsch4 and Pzsch5 is strikes east biotite granite in the hanging wall of the Kongur
Brunel et al., 1994; Ratschbacher et al., 1994; subparallel to the Shen-ti fault before bending Shan normal fault west of the Muztaghata mas-
Strecker et al., 1995; Murphy et al., 2000), our to the southeast along the Wuqa Valley (Fig. 4). sif (Mgr; Fig. 5; Table DR3 [see footnote 2]).
field observations indicate that the fault has not Foliations in the low-grade footwall schists Zircon analyses yielded a spread in ages from
been recently active (Figs. 4A and 4D). Specifi- and high-grade hanging-wall schists generally Late Proterozoic to late Miocene, with a strong
cally, the fault trace cuts perpendicularly across follow the orientation of the contact, changing cluster of late Miocene ages (Figs. 9A and B).
several narrow, deeply incised valleys without from east-striking and south-dipping along the Older ages generally came from the cores of zir-
offsetting them, and ridges above the valleys Tashkorgan River to northwest-striking, south- con grains and are interpreted as inherited zircon
where the gouge zone is exposed are capped by west-dipping along the Wuqa Valley. Although from the protolith. The seventeen youngest anal-
Quaternary loess deposits that show no evidence we never directly observed the Torbashi fault in yses from the biotite granite yielded a weighted
of tectonic disturbance. the field, south- to southwest-dipping foliations mean 206Pb/238U age of 11.46 ± 0.71 Ma (mean
on either side of the inferred fault trace imply a square of weighted deviates [MSWD] = 5.5),
Shen-ti Normal Fault south- to southwest-dipping fault, with mylonitic while a strong cluster of 12 analyses yielded an
fabrics in the hanging wall showing top-to-the- indistinguishable age of 11.68 ± 0.45 (MSWD
At the southern tip of the Kongur Shan nor- southwest shear sense (Fig. 4). Based on the = 1.5) (Fig. 9B), which we interpret as the intru-
mal fault, upper amphibolite facies schists and juxtaposition of high-grade schists structurally sion age of the granite.
gneisses in the footwall of the Kongur Shan overlying low-grade schists, we interpret the
and Tashkorgan faults (Pzsch3 and Pzgn) are sepa- Torbashi fault to be an originally northwest-dip- Footwall Orthogneiss
rated from greenschist facies schists to the south ping, southwest-directed thrust, which has been Sample AR6/15/00–3 was collected from a
(Pzsch4) along the east-west–trending Shen-ti subsequently rotated to a southerly dip. Along deformed biotite granite located in the footwall
fault (Fig. 5). The Shen-ti fault cuts obliquely the eastern side of the Tashkorgan Valley, fab- of the Kongur Shan normal fault immediately
through the high-grade schists and gneisses in its rics in the high-grade schists in the hanging wall north of the Muztaghata massif (Fig. 5). Four-
footwall juxtaposing the low-grade Pzsch4 against of the Torbashi thrust change to the south from teen analyses were made from 11 zircon grains
high-grade pelitic schists (Pzsch3) to the west and south-southwest–dipping to northeast-dipping, (Fig. 9C). One analysis (11–2) yielded a nega-
quartzofeldspathic gneisses (Pzgn) to the east. with east-west– to southwest-northeast–trend- tive U-Pb 206Pb*/238U age with large errors and is
While exposures of fault gouge were observed ing mineral lineations (Fig. 4). Further south, not discussed further. The other analyses yielded
along the trace of the fault, the fault surface that northeast-dipping medium-grade schists (Pzsch5) Late Cretaceous to early Miocene 206Pb*/238U
bounds the hanging wall and the gouge zone was lie structurally above northeast-dipping Permian ages (105–22 Ma), with nine analyses yielding
never directly observed in the field. Subparallel limestones and slates. As to the north, the juxta- late Eocene to early Miocene 206Pb*/238U ages
south-dipping foliations in the hanging wall and position of higher-grade rocks over lower-grade of 22–44 Ma. The nine youngest 204Pb corrected
footwall along most of the trace of the Shen-ti rocks suggests that the contact is a thrust fault ages were slightly reversely discordant, and two
fault are interpreted to indicate a southerly dip, that dips to the northeast. We interpret this con- analyses yielded negative 207Pb*/235U ages (anal-
although to the east, footwall fabric orientations tact to be the southern exposure of the Torbashi yses 8–1 and 1–1; Table DR3).

Geological Society of America Bulletin, July/August 2007 889

Robinson et al.

0.150 0.004 0.025

25 Ma

A 800 Ma B C 140 Ma

0.003 120 Ma

600 Ma 100 Ma


Pb/ U
15 Ma 0.015

500 Ma
0.075 0.002 80 Ma


400 Ma
0.010 60 Ma
0.050 300 Ma
0.001 40 Ma
200 Ma 5 Ma 0.005
20 Ma

0.000 0.0 0.000

0.00 0.25 0.50 0.75 1.00 1.25 1.50 -0.02 0.00 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.00
0. 0.05 0.10 10.5 0.01 .0.10 1.00
207 235 207 235 207 235
Pb/ U Pb/ U Pb/ U Th/U

Figure 9. Concordia plots of U-Pb zircon analyses. (A) All zircon analyses from biotite granite Mgr (samples AR4/27/00–10, AY8/21/99–8, and
AY8/23/99–3). (B) Miocene analyses from biotite granite Mgr. Analyses in black yield a weighted mean age of 11.46 ± 0.71 Ma (mean square
of weighted deviates [MSWD] = 5.5). Analyses in bold yield a weighted mean age of 11.68 ± 0.45 Ma (MSWD = 1.5). (C) Zircon analyses from
footwall mylonitic granite (sample AR 6/15/00–3). The Th/U ratios for each analysis are plotted to the right of the concordia plot.

Zircon grains from AR6/15/00–3 have a in garnet yielded ages from Triassic (228 ages, (2) a narrow middle Miocene peak at
mottled internal zoning pattern in cathodolu- ± 10 Ma) to late Oligocene (24.1 ± 1.7 Ma). ca. 14 Ma, which overlaps with the second peak
minescence images, and several grains contain Matrix analyses all yielded Miocene ages from in inclusion ages, and (3) a broad peak in the late
small patches of truncated oscillatory zoning 15.9 ± 0.3 Ma to 7.5 ± 0.2 Ma. Sixty-eight mon- Miocene from ca. 11 to 8 Ma that is not present
(Fig. DR4, see footnote 2). Analyses show a azite grains were analyzed from four samples of in the distribution of garnet inclusion ages.
direct correlation of age with internal zoning: garnet–kyanite–K-feldspar–bearing rocks at the Based on the distribution of the inclusion
Spot analyses of overlapping portions of oscil- southern end of the Kongur Shan normal fault and matrix ages, together with the high grade of
latory zoned zircon yield Late Cretaceous ages footwall and the footwall of the Tahman normal metamorphism and migmatitic textures, we inter-
while analyses exclusively from mottled por- fault (AR 9/6/03–3, AR 9/6/03–5, AR 7/7/00– pret the monazite analyses as follows: Cenozoic
tions of zircon yield Cenozoic ages. The mottled 7a, and AR 7/8/00–5b) (Fig. 5); thirty-seven of burial and prograde metamorphism of the schists
internal zoning is interpreted to be zircon grown these occurred as inclusions in garnet, and thirty- and gneisses to mid-crustal depths (30–35 km
or recrystallized during high-grade metamor- one were from the matrix of the sample. Analy- based on thermobarometry) occurred during
phism (Hoskin and Black, 2000), while oscil- ses from monazite inclusions in garnet (almost the Oligocene–early Miocene, resulting in the
latory zoned patches represent preserved por- entirely from samples AR 7/7/00/7a and AR broad peak in ages in both the matrix and inclu-
tions of premetamorphic igneous zircon. This 7/8/00–5b) yielded ages from Jurassic to middle sion analyses (as well as the metamorphic zir-
interpretation is supported by low Th/U ratios Miocene. With one exception, matrix monazite con ages from AR6/15/00–3). Continued crustal
of the analyses (Th/U < 0.10; Fig. 9C) typical analyses yielded Oligocene to Miocene ages, thickening and/or thermal relaxation during the
of metamorphic zircon (e.g., Hoskin and Black, with most falling between 10 and 16 Ma. Miocene led to partial melting of the schists at
2000; Ding et al., 2001; Mojzsis and Harrison, The cumulative distribution of all analyses ca. 14 Ma, resulting in the narrow peak in ages in
2002). The timing of metamorphism is tenta- from monazite inclusions in garnet from Pzsch3
tively placed as Oligocene–early Miocene based yielded a wide spread in ages from Mesozoic to
on the six youngest analyses (33–22 Ma). Miocene (Fig. 10). Mesozoic ages ranged from
Middle Triassic to Late Cretaceous, and most 40
Th-Pb Monazite Geochronology ages fell between the Middle Jurassic and Early Inclusion ages (n = 22)
35 Matrix ages (n = 63)
Cretaceous. While the Mesozoic ages indicate
Relative Probability

Seven samples from the high-grade pelitic a polymetamorphic history for Pzsch3, the wide
schists of Pzsch3 were dated by in situ ion-micro- spread makes it difficult to determine the tim- 25

probe Th-Pb analyses of monazite from two ing of this earlier metamorphic event (or events). 20
different regions: the western flank of Muz- Cenozoic ages from monazite inclusions in gar- 15
taghata, and the southern footwall of the Kongur net ranged from Eocene to middle Miocene with 10
Shan and footwall of the Tahman fault (Fig. 5) two main peaks: (1) a broad Oligocene to early
5 0 10 20 30 40 50
(Table DR4, see footnote 2). Miocene peak from 30 to 20 Ma, and (2) a nar-
Thirty-five grains were analyzed from three row middle Miocene peak at ca. 14 Ma. Matrix 0 25 50 75 100 125 150 175 200 225 250
samples of mylonitic high-grade schist from the monazite analyses yielded only one pre-Oligo- Age (Ma)
western flank of Muztaghata (AR 8/31/03–3, cene age of 119.2 ± 5.7 Ma (Fig. 10). The cumu-
AR 8/31/03–5, and AR 9/1/03–1a) (Fig. 5), lative distribution of Cenozoic matrix ages show Figure 10. Cumulative probability plots
seven of which occurred as inclusions in garnet three main peaks: (1) a small broad late Oligo- of all monazite Th-Pb ages from Pzsch3
and twenty-eight of which were from the matrix cene to early Miocene peak (ca. 20–25 Ma), grouped into inclusion ages (black) and
of the sample. Analyses of monazite inclusions which overlaps with the first peak in inclusion matrix ages (gray).

890 Geological Society of America Bulletin, July/August 2007

Cenozoic evolution of the eastern Pamir

both matrix and inclusion analyses. Since mona- South of the Muztaghata massif, biotite and hanging wall of the Torbashi thrust fault were
zite in the matrix of the samples would have muscovite analyses from the footwall of the cooled below the muscovite and biotite closure
been susceptible to dissolution/reprecipitation Kongur Shan normal fault are characterized by temperatures by the Late Cretaceous.
during anatexis, much of the monazite grown remarkably consistent ages of 7.5–8.5 Ma over
during the Oligocene–early Miocene (as well a broad area (Fig. 5). One biotite age of 10.1 DISCUSSION
as surviving Mesozoic grains) would have been ± 0.2 Ma at the mouth of Tugenmansu Valley is
reset or destroyed. Recrystallization processes anomalously old, which we interpret to be due Field investigations of the southern Kongur
during exhumation-related deformation resulted to excess 40Ar. While there was only one musco- Shan extensional system and related geochrono-
in continued monazite growth, producing late vite analysis along the southern footwall of the logic and thermochronologic analyses provide
Miocene matrix ages from 8 to 10 Ma. Kongur Shan normal fault (AR7/4/00–5), the insight into the Cenozoic tectonic evolution and
age overlaps with nearby biotite ages, indicating pre-Cenozoic tectonic configuration of the Pamir
Ar/39Ar Thermochronology rapid cooling in the late Miocene. These ages are region. Next, we discuss the geologic implica-
in general agreement with two phlogopite K-Ar tions of our observations and analytical results.
Hanging Wall of Kongur Shan Normal Fault ages and a biotite K-Ar age reported by Xu et al.
A sample from Pzsch1 in the hanging wall of (1996) of 9.0 Ma, 6.7 Ma, and 6.7 Ma, respec- Kongur Shan Extensional System
the Kongur Shan normal fault (AR6/19/00–11a) tively, from the Tugenmansu Valley. However,
northwest of the Muztaghata massif (Fig. 3) since no uncertainties were reported, it is difficult Cooling-age patterns and geologic relations
yielded a Late Jurassic biotite age of 159 ± 4 Ma to assess the discrepancy of their younger ages. across the active faults at the southern end of the
(Table DR5, Fig. DR5, see footnote 2), which The consistency of the ages from the footwall is Kongur Shan extensional system provide impor-
overlaps with previously published Late Juras- notable because there are no obvious relation- tant information on the magnitude and timing of
sic ages from the northern portion of the hang- ships between the biotite ages and proximity to extension along the southern end of the Kongur
ing wall (Robinson et al., 2004). As discussed in the Kongur Shan fault, structural trends, or rock Shan extensional system. While cooling ages in
Robinson et al. (2004), we interpret these ages type. This is strikingly different from the pattern the footwall of the southern Kongur Shan fault
to reflect postmetamorphic cooling through the of increasing age with distance from the Kongur and Tahman fault are uniformly late Miocene,
biotite closure temperature. Shan fault observed in the footwall immediately several observations demonstrate that this cool-
Sample AR4/27/00–10 is from the biotite north of the Muztaghata massif and along the ing event was unrelated to the active east-west
granite at the northern end of the Tashkorgan northern flank of the Kongur Shan massif (Arn- extension: (1) late Miocene cooling ages show
alkaline complex (Mgr), southwest of the Muz- aud et al., 1993; Robinson et al., 2004). no variation relative to the active structures, with
taghata massif (Fig. 5). This sample yielded a little or no offset in ages across the Kongur Shan
biotite 40Ar/39Ar weighted mean spectra age of Footwall of Tahman Normal Fault fault and no variation in cooling ages up to at
11.2 ± 0.2 Ma, which is in agreement with the Four biotite and two muscovite analyses were least 15 km east of the active Kongur Shan fault
biotite and K-feldspar cooling ages from Xu et obtained from schists of Pzsch3 within the foot- (Fig. 5). (2) Kinematic indicators in the southern
al. (1996) and overlaps the U-Pb zircon age of wall of the Tahman fault (Fig. 5). Analyses from exposures of Pzsch3, which were at ~35 km in the
11.68 ± 0.45 Ma. The overlap in age between the Tahman fault footwall generally yielded ages middle Miocene show top-to-the-south sense
the zircon U-Pb analyses and the biotite and of 8–10 Ma, which overlap with footwall ages of shear, perpendicular to the active east-west
K-feldspar 40Ar/39Ar analyses shows that the from the Kongur Shan fault directly to the east. extension. (3) The sharp break in cooling ages
granite was emplaced at shallow depths and One analyses from the footwall of the Tahman from Miocene to Cretaceous and between upper
cooled rapidly in the middle Miocene. normal fault yielded a biotite age of 13.7 Ma, amphibolite and greenschist facies schists occurs
which we interpret to be the result of excess across the south-dipping Shen-ti fault. (4) Geo-
Footwall of Kongur Shan Normal Fault Ar because it overlaps with the timing of peak logic mapping shows no detectable offset of the
Twenty-two biotite analyses and five musco- metamorphic conditions for the footwall deter- contact between the high-grade schists (Pzsch3)
vite analyses were obtained from samples taken mined from monazite Th-Pb geochronology. and quartzofeldspathic gneisses (Pzgn1) across the
from the footwall of the Kongur Shan normal Kongur Shan fault and no observable continua-
fault (Fig. 4). Most analyses yielded relatively Hanging Wall of Torbashi Fault tion of the fault south of the Tashkorgan River.
flat age spectra with agreement within error Three biotite analyses and one muscovite Cooling ages along the northern flank of
between total gas, weighted mean age spectra, analysis were obtained from high-grade schists the Muztaghata massif are more difficult to
and inverse isochron ages. Several analyses of Pzsch5 at the northern end of the Torbashi fault uniquely interpret. The decrease in cooling ages
yielded slightly disturbed, but interpretable age hanging wall (Fig. 5; Figs. DR5AJ–DR5AM across the massif from ca. 7.5 Ma to 6.2 Ma and
spectra (e.g., AR7/4/00-1; Fig. DR5Z), while one [see footnote 2]). Biotite analyses yielded younger could represent a break between pre–
analysis yielded a highly disturbed uninterpreta- late Early Cretaceous total gas ages between east-west extension ages to the south and syn-
ble age spectra (AR6/30/00-10b; Fig. DR5W). 107 ± 2 Ma and 124 ± 4 Ma, with somewhat extensional ages to the north. This would date
North of the Muztaghata massif, muscovite disturbed age spectra. The muscovite analy- initiation of extension along the southern end of
and biotite analyses from footwall gneisses sis yielded an erratic age spectra with a total the Kongur Shan fault to between 6.2 and.5 Ma,
yielded ages of 6.2–2.7 Ma (Fig. 5). The data gas age of 105 Ma. Since this is significantly similar to the documented initiation of extension
from this area show two trends: (1) ages increase younger than the biotite age of 120 Ma from the at the northern end of the fault (Robinson et al.,
slightly to the east with distance from the fault, same sample, it suggests that either the biotite 2004). Alternatively, the 6.5 Ma muscovite age
and (2) ages increase to the south along the trace is contaminated with excess 40Ar, or the mus- could represent cooling due to re-equilibration
of the fault, where muscovite ages increase from covite has been subjected to alteration. Despite of high thermal gradients from rapid middle
2.9 Ma to 6.2 Ma over a distance of 10.5 km the relatively poor quality of the data, these to late Miocene exhumation of the schists and
along the northern flank of Muztaghata. results indicate that the high-grade schists in the gneisses immediately to the south. If so, ages

Geological Society of America Bulletin, July/August 2007 891

Robinson et al.

farther north would suggest initiation of exten- of the Kongur Shan fault, (2) ~35 km along the at the southern end of the Kongur Shan normal
sion since ca. 5 Ma, indicating southward prop- Kongur Shan massif, (3) ~20 km (or less) along fault predated the active east-west extension
agation of east-west extension. the Muztaghata massif, and (4) <3 km along and was instead accommodated in part by the
Regardless of these two interpretations, cool- the Tashkorgan fault. While uncertainties in south-dipping Shen-ti fault. Geochronologic
ing ages indicate that the southernmost change the individual calculations are significant, due and thermobarometric constraints indicate that
from pre– to syn–east-west extension ages occurs primarily to uncertainties in subsurface fault the schists were brought from 30 to 35 km depth
along the western flank of the Muztaghata mas- geometry (e.g., if the fault shallows at depth) to within 10 km of Earth’s surface in ~6 m.y.,
sif, where we interpreted the fault to dip ~30° to and geothermal gradients, the overall pattern of which requires exhumation rates of 3–4 mm/
the west. Rapid middle to late Miocene exhu- decreasing magnitude of extension from north yr. We interpret this event to have resulted in
mation documented immediately to the south to south is robust. These results are consistent the formation of the west-northwest–trending
would have resulted in advection of isotherms with east-west extension in the Pamir that was domal structure of the Muztaghata massif and
and a high local geothermal gradient along the primarily driven by oroclinal bending–radial southern Kongur Shan fault footwall. Further,
Muztaghata massif. Using a reasonable elevated spreading of the Pamir salient during northward several lines of evidence indicate that the Muz-
geothermal gradient of 40 °C/km, rocks along overthrusting along the Main Pamir thrust. taghata antiform is the eastward continuation of
the western flank of the massif at or near the bio- One key observation is that our calculations the Muskol and Sares antiforms of the Central
tite and muscovite closure temperatures would show the largest magnitude of extension located Pamir (Figs. 2 and 9), and that these features
record ~9 km of exhumation, yielding ~20 km along the Kongur Shan massif; this is incon- have not been offset from the Qiangtang anti-
of east-west extension, with higher geothermal sistent with a simple oroclinal bending–radial clinorium along the Karakorum fault. These
gradients (or synextensional ages located farther spreading model, which would predict a con- include: (1) Lithologies in the fault-bounded
north) yielding less extension. stant southward decrease in the magnitude of core of Muskol and Sares domes are described
Eocene K-feldspar cooling ages demonstrate extension. This suggests that other factors play a as granitic gneisses, kyanite-garnet–bearing
<5 km of exhumation along the steeply east- role in the evolution of the Kongur Shan exten- micaceous schists, and interlayered marble and
dipping Tashkorgan, which results in <3 km of sional system, such as synorogenic uplift asso- amphibolite, with local migmatization of the
extension for a fault dipping 60°. This, along ciated with the exhumation of the Kongur Shan high-grade schists (Pashkov and Dmitriyev,
with the apparent termination of the fault to massif (e.g., Brunel et al., 1994). 1982; Peykre et al., 1982), identical to the high-
the south within thick Quaternary(?) deposits, grade schists and gneisses in the footwall of the
shows low magnitudes of extension along the Oligocene-Miocene Crustal Thickening and Shen-ti fault (Pzsch3 and Pzgn1). While there are
Tashkorgan fault and a southward decrease in Gneiss Dome Formation differences compared to some of the lithologies
the magnitude of extension along the southern described by Schwab et al. (2004) (i.e., lack of
half of the Kongur Shan extensional system. Oligocene-Miocene Crustal Thickening gabbros and preserved pillow basalts), these
To address along-strike variation of east-west Monazite and zircon ages from high-grade appear to be primarily confined to the upper units
extension along the entire Kongur Shan exten- schists and gneisses along the southern foot- (and lower metamorphic grades) of their sche-
sional system, it is necessary to reexamine one of wall of the Kongur Shan fault document crustal matic stratigraphic sections. This is consistent
our calculations from Robinson et al. (2004). One thickening in the eastern Pamir during the Oli- with our observation that the Shen-ti fault cuts
of the two points where magnitudes of extension gocene to middle Miocene. The timing of crustal “down-section” to the east, excising the shal-
were calculated along the Kongur Shan normal thickening overlaps with the interpreted late Oli- lower levels of the domes. (2) Regional geologic
fault was ~35 km north of the Kongur Shan mas- gocene initiation of slip along the Main Pamir maps and interpretation of satellite images show
sif, where K-feldspar Multiple Diffusion Domain thrust as determined from sedimentologic, ther- the contact of the southern margin of the Sares
modeling showed rapid cooling from ~250 °C mochronologic, and paleomagnetic evidence in antiform intersecting the Tashkorgan Valley
at 7–8 Ma. The segment of the fault where the the Tarim and Tajik Basins (e.g., Thomas et al., ~10 km south of the westward projection of the
sample was located dips ~30° to the southwest, 1994, 1996; Sobel and Dumitru, 1997; Burt- Shen-ti fault (Figs. 2 and 11) (Pashkov and Dmi-
and the calculated 17 km of extension was based man, 2000), as well as metamorphic ages from triyev, 1982; Yin and Bian, 1992). (3) The axes
on ~10 km of exhumation along a 30°-dipping near-ultrahigh-pressure crustal xenoliths from of the Sares and Muztaghata domes lie directly
plane. However, since extension is east-west the southeast Pamir (Ducea et al., 2003; Hacker along strike of each other (Fig. 11) (Pashkov and
rather than northeast-southwest, exhumation et al., 2005). Together, these studies point to a Dmitriyev, 1982), and restoration of east-west
would be along a path plunging ~20° west, major change in the dynamics of the Pamir in extension places the Muztaghata massif directly
yielding ~30 km of east-west extension. While the late Oligocene with the initiation of major beneath the Sares dome. (4) Map relations and
we did not obtain detailed kinematic data in the crustal thickening and shortening. Crustal thick- interpretation of satellite images suggest that,
field, analysis of satellite images indicates right- ening also appears to have led to a period of like the Muztaghata dome, the Sares dome is
lateral deflection of geomorphic features along extensive Miocene middle- and lower-crustal asymmetric with a shallower-dipping northern
this fault segment, which is consistent with the melting based on the presence of migmatitic limb, defined by a sinuous contact that interacts
above interpretation. It is important to note that textures in the high-grade schists, lower-crustal with local topography, and a steeper-dipping
the estimated magnitude of extension is still less xenoliths that underwent partial melting (Hacker southern limb, which is straighter and does not
than the ~35 km of extension calculated along et al., 2005), and numerous Miocene granitic appear to interact with topography. (5) The Sares
the Kongur Shan massif farther to the south. bodies in the Central Pamir (Fig. 11) (Xu et al., and Muskol gneiss domes record early Miocene
1996; Ducea et al., 2003; Schwab et al., 2004). Ar/39Ar hornblende and biotite cooling ages,
East-West Extension in the Pamir with Cretaceous 40Ar/39Ar cooling ages in the
Calculated magnitudes of extension along the Miocene Gneiss Dome Formation Central Pamir south of the domes (101 Ma;
Kongur Shan fault system from north to south As discussed already, rapid late Miocene Schwab et al., 2004), similar to the age juxtapo-
are as follows: (1) ~30 km at the northern end exhumation of high-grade schists and gneisses sition across the Shen-ti and Torbashi faults.

892 Geological Society of America Bulletin, July/August 2007

Cenozoic evolution of the eastern Pamir

A 74° 76°
Geologic units:
Quaternary deposits
Kalagile Cenozoic midcrustal rocks
fault Cenozoic plutons (from
Schwab et al., 2004,
Ghez and Hubbard et al., 1999)
Map Symbols:
fault Gneiss dome axes

Boundary of Miocene
A Thrust fault
Muskol dome
Normal fault

Strike-slip fault
Buried fault

Sares dome
38° 38°


B Kongur Shan
5 5
ul u lt
Elevation (km)

Elevation (km)

0 al Ghez fault 0 l fa
rm ma
no or
-5 EPSZ n -5 EPSZ nn
ha Sha EPSZ
-10 urS -10 ur
ng ng
Ko Ko
-15 -15

Elevation (km)

al fa
0 orm
D -5 r Sh
n gu

Figure 11. (A) Simplified tectonic map of the Pamir emphasizing Cenozoic high-grade rocks exposed in the cores of the Muskol and Sares
domes and the footwall of the Kongur Shan normal fault, and the distribution of the Cenozoic Sares-Murgab belt of plutons in the Pamir.
(B–D) Schematic cross sections A, B, and C across the Kongur Shan normal fault and Eastern Pamir shear zone showing the interpreted
relation between the two structures. The line denoting the Eastern Pamir shear zone (EPSZ) represents the schematic location of a shear
zone several kilometers thick.

Geological Society of America Bulletin, July/August 2007 893

Robinson et al.

Although cooling-age data from Schwab et indicating that the right-slip Ghez shear zone tive to the upper crust beneath the northeastern
al. (2004) for the Sares and Muskol domes are has been rotated from an originally shallowly Pamir, which allowed Oligocene to Miocene
limited, they suggest a complicated history of dipping to subhorizontal position (Fig. 11B), crustal thickening to occur with limited or
synchronous gneiss dome formation and crustal with a top-to-the-south sense of shear. While the no shortening in the upper crust of the North-
thickening during the Miocene. Early Miocene southward continuation of the eastern bound- ern Pamir (Fig. 12A). Based on metamorphic
cooling ages for the Sares and Muskol domes ary of the high-grade metamorphic rocks has assemblages within the Ghez shear zone (garnet
overlap with prograde metamorphism docu- not been documented in detail, all regional geo- + biotite) and pervasive ductile shear distributed
mented within the Muztaghata gneiss dome and logic maps place it in roughly the same location over a zone several kilometers wide, the East-
are older than the late Miocene cooling ages in (Figs. 2 and 11A), and several depict it as a fault ern Pamir shear zone was located below the
the footwall of the Shen-ti fault. The eastward (e.g., Yin and Bian, 1992; Xinjiang Bureau of brittle-ductile transition at mid-crustal depths of
decrease in cooling ages along the gneiss domes Geology and Mineral Resources, 1993). Fur- ~15 km. This is similar to the depth to detach-
suggests that either gneiss dome formation was thermore, this eastern contact of the terrane is ment for low-angle normal fault systems (e.g.,
diachronous, migrating from east to west, or depicted as connecting with the east-striking Davis and Lister, 1988; Wernicke and Axen,
that exhumation lasted longer in the east than in Shen-ti fault in the south. 1988; Lister and Davis, 1989), including those
the west, eventually exhuming rocks that were We propose that the eastern contact of the in Tibet (e.g., Kapp et al., 2005). Crustal thick-
still undergoing prograde metamorphism in the Cenozoic high-grade terrane is a continuous ening in the footwall of the ductile décollement
middle Miocene. We tentatively prefer the lat- shear zone that links with the Shen-ti fault to the led to melting of the middle and lower crust
ter, based on the apparent eastward increase in south, which we refer to as the Eastern Pamir beneath the Central Pamir during the Miocene
north-south width of the Central Pamir gneiss shear zone (Fig. 11). In our model, the Eastern (Fig. 12B) and the formation of the Sares-Mur-
domes (Fig. 11). Pamir shear zone is a regional ductile décolle- gab granitoid belt (Fig. 11A). Continued north-
ment that accommodated northward relative south shortening in the footwall of the Eastern
Tectonic Model for Crustal Thickening and displacement of the middle and lower crust rela- Pamir shear zone, facilitated by a decrease in
Gneiss Dome Formation
While the northern margin of the high-grade
core of the Sares antiform is fault-bounded, our
field observations indicate that the gneisses of
the Muztaghata antiform are structurally con- A Oligocene Eastern Pamir shear zone
Main Pamir Thrust

tinuous with those of the Kongur Shan massif to S N

the north, and they form a coherent high-grade
metamorphic terrane in the footwall of the Kon- Tarim

gur Shan normal fault. This indicates that the

tectonic evolution of this metamorphic terrane
involved synchronous middle to late Miocene
exhumation at its southern end (this study) B Early Miocene
and continued prograde metamorphism at its S N
northern end (Robinson et al., 2004). Here, we
discuss several other regional observations and Tarim
propose a tectonic model for the evolution of the
Cenozoic metamorphic terrane.
One observation from our field studies in the
region and previously published information
(Burtman and Molnar, 1993) is the lack of Ceno-
zoic internal shortening of the metamorphic
C Middle Miocene
rocks that make up the Northern Pamir terrane S N
south of the Oligocene-Holocene fold-and-thrust
belt in the Alai Valley. This requires the Miocene Tarim
crustal thickening and prograde metamorphism
documented in the Kongur Shan massif (Robin-
son et al., 2004) to have been driven by under-
thrusting of material beneath the Northern Pamir
from either the north or the south.
Where the eastern boundary of the Cenozoic
high-grade metamorphic terrane has been well
documented east of the Kongur Shan massif,
it coincides with the right-lateral Ghez shear Figure 12. Cenozoic tectonic evolution of the middle and lower crust in the Pamir: (A) Oli-
zone (Fig. 3) (Brunel et al., 1994; Robinson et gocene underthrusting of the middle and lower crust along the Eastern Pamir shear zone
al., 2004). The 40Ar/39Ar cooling ages and ther- with crustal thickening and prograde metamorphism. (B) Continued thickening and heat-
mokinematic modeling from the Kongur Shan ing of the middle and lower crust leads to dehydration melting in the early to middle Mio-
massif require significant footwall rollover cene, generating granitic melts. (C) Weakened middle and lower crust is extruded upward
(>40°) during extension (Robinson et al., 2005), during continued north-south compression, forming the Central Pamir gneiss domes.

894 Geological Society of America Bulletin, July/August 2007

Cenozoic evolution of the eastern Pamir

Pamir–Tien Shan transition zone for the Cretaceous

both the density and strength of the footwall Exhumation of high-grade schists and and Palaeogene: Tectonophysics, v. 319, p. 69–92, doi:
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Burtman, V.S., and Molnar, P., 1993, Geological and geo-
extrusion of the Central Pamir gneiss domes mal fault occurred during the late Miocene prior physical evidence for deep subduction of continental
synchronous with continued crustal thickening to initiation of east-west extension, and exhu- crust beneath the Pamir: Geological Society of Amer-
and metamorphism (Fig. 12C) (e.g., Teyssier mation of the southern end of the metamorphic ica Special Paper 281, 76 p.
Chung, S.-L., Chu, M.-F., Zhang, Y., Xie, Y., Lo, C.-H.,
and Whitney, 2002; Burg et al., 2004; Mahéo et terrane was accommodated along the south-dip- Lee, T.-Y., Lan, C.-Y., Li, X., Zhang, Q., and Wang, Y.,
al., 2004). Synchronous gneiss dome formation ping, top-to-the-south Shen-ti fault. We interpret 2005, Tibetan tectonic evolution inferred from spatial
and continued northward relative motion of the this rapid exhumation event, and formation of and temporal variations in post-collisional magma-
tism: Earth-Science Reviews, v. 68, p. 173–196, doi:
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gneiss dome formation accounts for both late development of the Miocene Central Pamir Cowgill, E., Yin, A., Harrison, T.M., and Xiao-Feng, W.,
2003, Reconstruction of the Altyn Tagh fault based
Miocene (ca. 9 Ma) prograde metamorphism gneiss domes, where the Muztaghata antiform is on U-Pb geochronology: Role of back thrusts, mantle
along the Kongur Shan massif (Robinson et al., the eastward continuation of the Sares antiform sutures, and heterogeneous crustal strength in forming
2004) and the asymmetric, south-vergent shape of Schwab et al. (2004). the Tibetan Plateau: Journal of Geophysical Research,
v. 108, no. B7, p. 2346, doi: 10.1029/2002JB002080.
of the Muztaghata gneiss dome (e.g., Whitney Our interpreted eastward continuation of the Davis, G.A., and Lister, G.S., 1988, Detachment faulting
et al., 2004). Sares antiform into the footwall of the Kongur in continental extension: Perspectives from the south-
A possible mechanical drive for our model of Shan normal fault, and lack of evidence for western U.S. Cordillera, in Clark, S.P., Jr., Burchfiel,
B.C., Suppe, J., eds., Processes in continental litho-
deformation, crustal thickening, and gneiss dome strike-slip deformation along the Tashkorgan spheric deformation: Geological Society of America
formation is the proposed Cenozoic northward Valley, suggests that the Central Pamir antiforms Special Paper 218, p. 133–159.
have not been offset across the Karakorum fault Ding, L., Zhong, D., Yin, A., Kapp, P., and Harrison, T.M.,
subduction of the Karakorum terrane beneath 2001, Cenozoic structural and metamorphic evolution
the Central Pamir (Ducea et al., 2003; Hacker et from the Qiangtang anticlinorium as suggested of the eastern Himalayan syntaxis (Namche Barwa):
al., 2005). Thus, structures accommodating top- by Schwab et al. (2004). Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 192, p. 423–
438, doi: 10.1016/S0012-821X(01)00463-0.
to-the-south Oligocene-Miocene displacement Ducea, M.N., Lutkov, V., Minaev, V.T., Hacker, B., Ratsch-
along the Eastern Pamir shear zone footwall ACKNOWLEDGMENTS bacher, L., Luffi, P., Schwab, M., Gehrels, G.E., McWil-
would surface where intercontinental subduction liams, M., Vervoort, J., and Metcalf, J., 2003, Building
Discussions with Eric Cowgill, Mike Taylor, and the Pamirs: The view from the underside: Geology,
was being accommodated, in the southern Kara- Alex Webb helped clarify many of the ideas presented v. 31, no. 10, p. 849–852, doi: 10.1130/G19707.1.
korum terrane (Fraser et al., 2001), or along one here. We thank Marty Grove for assistance with the Fraser, J.E., Searle, M.P., Parrish, R.R., and Nobel, S.R.,
2001, Chronology of deformation, metamorphism,
of the suture zones in the Southern Pamir and Ar analyses, Frank Kyte for assistance with the elec-
and magmatism in the southern Karakoram Moun-
farther south (Hacker et al., 2005). tron microprobe analyses, and Marty Grove and Axel tains: Geological Society of America Bulletin,
Schmidt for support with the ion microprobe analyses v. 113, no. 11, p. 1443–1455, doi: 10.1130/0016-
and interpretation of data. Careful and critical reviews 7606(2001)113<1443:CODMAM>2.0.CO;2.
CONCLUSIONS by Michael Edwards, Rasmus Thiede, and especially Gaetani, M., 1997, The Karakorum block in Central Asia, from
Lothar Ratschbacher substantially improved the initial Ordovician to Cretaceous: Sedimentary Geology, v. 109,
Field and analytical investigations along the manuscript. Cumulative probability plots were gener- p. 339–359, doi: 10.1016/S0037-0738(96)00068-1.
ated using Isoplot/Ex v 3.0 (Ludwig, 2003). This work Hacker, B., Luffi, P., Lutkov, V., Minaev, V., Ratschbacher,
southern end of the Kongur Shan normal fault L., Plank, T., Ducea, M.N., Patiño-Douce, A.E., McWil-
was supported by National Science Foundation grant
integrated with previously published results EAR-0126122 and a Grants-in-Aid of Research from
liams, M., and Metcalf, J., 2005, Near-ultrahigh pres-
from the northern end of the fault system show a sure processing of continental crust: Miocene crustal
the Geological Society of America. The ion micro- xenoliths from the Pamir: Journal of Petrology, v. 46,
generally southward decrease in the magnitude probe facility at University of California–Los Ange- no. 8, p. 1661–1687, doi: 10.1093/petrology/egi030.
of east-west extension along the Kongur Shan les (UCLA) is partially supported by a grant from the Haines, S.S., Klemperer, S.L., Brown, L., Jingru, G., Mechie,
extensional system. These results are consis- Instrumentation and Facilities Program, Division of J., Meissner, R., Ross, A., and Wenjin, Z., 2003,
Earth Sciences, National Science Foundation. INDEPTH III seismic data: From surface observations
tent with oroclinal bending–radial thrusting of to deep crustal processes in Tibet: Tectonics, v. 22,
the Pamir salient as the primary driver of east- no. 1, p. 1001, doi: 10.1029/2001TC001305,2003.
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896 Geological Society of America Bulletin, July/August 2007

Cenozoic evolution of the eastern Pamir: Implications for strain-accommodation mechanisms at the western end of the Himalayan-Tibetan orogen
Alexander C. Robinson, An Yin, Craig E. Manning, T. Mark Harrison, Shuan-Hong Zhang, Xiao-Feng Wang
Figures 4 and 5
Supplement to: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 119, no. 7/8, doi: 10.1130/B25981.S1.
© Copyright 2007 Geological Society of America
A 75° 00′ 75° 30′
44 79

Kongur Shan
19 15 31 49 84
Pzgn1 45 84

Q2 65

87 40
52 66 65 67
40 51
61 4000 23

62 69
Q1 51 46

75 44 50
77 Q1 47 44


76 23
73 76 45

20 42
60 87 75 61

75 72 Pzsch4 400
40 0
n = 37

48 35
65 53
66 75 area unmapped

46 38

37 45 74
61 68

29 33 86 77

48 40
o rg

10 28 79 85 49 71
Mgr 41 67 63 Pzsch3
24 48 55
Pzsch3 20

55 66 28
18 71 52
0 10 84
72 82

17 56 69 74
28 54 60
Q2 80 59 32 32

45 25 37 69 87 34 34
38 65 65
Shen-ti fault
38 72 30 47 62 15
13 61
27 37 33
18 Pzsch4 28
36 38 4000
33 23 37

31 Torbashi fault 33


84 54 Q1
Data from the Tashkorgan River


17 82 Data from the Wuqa Valley

2 53



Shen-ti fault 44 area unmapped


Q1 52
62 83
12 81 2 50
44 27 00
?? 4









i fa
a fa




31 65


0 53

500 Qss

37º 40'

37º 40'
Pzsch5 48

Torbashi Q2
Qm 6

40 ?

area unmapped
k orga

B Q1 area unmapped Q2
n fau

n = 22

Qm Qm




Glacie QL
Geologic Units:
Q1 Quaternary alluvial/fluvial deposits

Qm Quaternary glacial moraines
Q2 Old Quaternary alluvial/fluvial deposits
41 Pzsch5
0 QL Quaternary (?) loess
Sedimentary Units

D 5000 Qss Quaternary (?) medium-grained deposits

Kss Cretaceous red beds


area unmapped JL2 Jurassic limestone

37 31
? JL1 Jurassic limestone

PL Permian limestone

Ps Permian slate
Metamorphic Units

Pzgn1 Paleozoic quartzofeldspathic gneisses.


fau Paleozoic upper amphibolite facies metasediments.
lt Pzsch3
Structurally lower portions dominated by pelitic
schists. Structurally higher portions dominated by
marble, calc-silicates, and mafic schist.
N Pzsch4 Paleozoic upper greenschist facies schists and
mafic schists.
QL PL Pzsch5 Paleozoic upper greenschist to upper amphibolite
22 facies schists and gneisses.
57 65
Plutonic Units

81 86 Mgr Miocene biotite granite

2 km
39 87
Figure Esy Eocene diopside-bearing syenite
37º 20'

Mzgr Triassic-Early Jurassic granites and granodiorites

69 Q2
4000 53

77 75
Ps 48
44 Map Symbols:
area unmapped Kongur Shan normal fault
JL1 ? ?
Normal faults associated with the Kongur Shan

extensional system
Normal faults not associated with the Kongur Shan

extensional system
Thrust fault
u faul


JL2 ? ? Qm

Approximate or inferred fault contact

Fault with unknown kinematics
JL1 Kss 20 Buried structure
33 85
68 Strike and dip of foliation and
85 trend and plunge of lineations
35 47 Strike and dip of bedding

0 5 10 Qm
Ps Lakes and rivers
Contour Interval: 200 m

Q2 Glaciers

75° 00′ JL1


Figure 4. (A) Geologic map of the Tashkorgan normal fault, NE Pamir, China. Lower-hemisphere equal-area stereonets show foliation planes and lineations from (B) unit
Pzsch4, and (C) unit Pzsch5. (D) ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) visible bands (red—3; green—2; blue—1) of the Kalaqigu
fault (black arrows) south of the Tashkorgan fault. Undisturbed Quaternary deposits capping ridges (white arrows) indicate no recent motion along the fault.
A 75° 00′ 75° 30′
Pzgw Qm

Qm 6525
Pzsch1 Q2 massif
Pzgw n = 111

Kongur Shan
30 Pzgw
57 60 40 54 27
70 54
47 62
area unmapped


Pzgw 38 38
32 Q1
10 32 Glacier
25 00
50 Lineations
29 AR 6/12/00-4
30 40
AR 6/12/00-2
23 00 2.92 ± 0.17(b)
ziya 40 2.96 ± 0.03 (m)
Poles to Planes
32 32
11 35

4000 lt 11

17 34 27
30 Pzgn1
Geologic Units:
AR 6/15/00-3
10 2.72 ± 0.07(b)

25 AR 6/15/00-5
Q2 AR 6/18/00-2
3.12 ± 0.07(b) Q1 Quaternary alluvial/fluvial deposits

Quaternary Units
21 14
31 Pzsch1 4.71 ± 0.10(m)
38 14 20

Qm Quaternary glacial moraines
6 61 5 Mzgr

Qm 4
Q2 Quaternary alluvial/fluvial deposits
38° 20′

Qm 10
10 AR 6/18/00-7 Qss Quaternary sandstones
4.83 ± 0.09(m)
55 Pzgn1
AR 6/13/00-1b
5000 Pzsch1 Paleozoic upper-amphibolite facies schists.
6.20 ± 0.13(m)

Paleozoic metagraywacke. Lower greenschist


AR 8/31/03-5 area unmapped

AR 8/31/03-3 500 Pzgw facies schists and calcareous schists, with minor
4 0 0 0
60 marble and graphitic schist.

Metasedimentary Units
25 14
7184 6088 Q2
Pzgn1 Paleozoic quartzofeldspathic gneisses.
Paleozoic upper-amphibolite to granulite facies
metasediments. Structurally lower portions

Muztaghata dominated by pelitic schists. Structurally higher
portions dominated by marble, calc-silicates, and
7277 mafic schist.
Pzsch4 Paleozoic upper greenschist facies schists and
AR 9/1/03-1 mafic schists.
25 Pzsch3 r Paleozoic upper greenschist to upper amphibolite
37 facies schists and gneisses.
6 19 7028

Plutonic Units
Mgr Miocene biotite granite
24 6000
11 71
Esy Eocene diopside bearing syenite
Pzgn1 6841
Mzgr Triassic-Early Jurassic granites and granodiorites
21 19
36 Glacier 6355
Map Symbols:
Kongur Shan normal fault

Ko 6108 5000
Normal faults associated with
Qm n gu AR 6/29/00-3 AR 6/29/00-4 Qm the Kongur Shan extensional system

rS Qm
8.03 ± 0.21(b) 7.50 ± 0.13(b)
Normal faults not associated with
AR 4/27/00-10
11.2 ± 0.2(b) ha 65
the Kongur Shan extensional system
AY 8/21/99-8 Pzgn1 56

5358 50 Mzgr
57 AR 6/22/00-7
Thrust fault
Qm 60 8.36 ± 0.18(b)
AR 6/25/00-3 y 40
AR 6/29/00-1
0 ± 0.13(b) 55 8.07 ± 0.14(b) AR 6/22/00-6 Approximate or inferred fault contact
07.87 56
va 7.42 ± 0.26(b)
Q2 54
su 58

AR 6/25/00-1 an area unmapped Buried fault contact

8.60 ± 0.25(b)
e nm 60
g 52 85
T55u 5384 Strike and dip of foliation and
63 85 trend and plunge of lineations
AR 6/22/00-6
8.05 ± 0.19(b) Pzgn1
AR 6/22/00-6
AR 6/30/00-10 Sample locailty, station number, and weighted
9.42 ± 0.94(b)
Mgr 10.1 ± 0.2(b) mean 40Ar/39Ar age (b = biotite, m = muscovite)

47 72 Lakes and rivers

62 82
AR 6/23/00-2 86 78
8.02 ± 0.17(b)
66 Glaciers

AY 8/23/99-3 33 84
74 5148
38° 00′

AR 6/24/00-7
38° 00′

Q1 54
7.74 ± 0.30(b)

AR 6/24/00-3
76 8.38 ± 0.23(b)

Tahman 31
10 25
area unmapped
Kongur Shan

32 58
52 79
44 84
19 15 31 49 AR 6/30/00-10

54 AR 6/28/00-9 9.42 ± 0.94(b)

45 8.32 ± 0.17(b) 84
38 Pzgn1

87 65
65 40
66 67
AR 7/8/00-7

40 61 8.51 ± 0.14(m) 52 4000 23
51 69

8.55 ± 0.14(b) 46
75 44
AR 9/6/03-3

AR 7/6/00-10
77 50

47 44 AR 9/6/03-5 Pzgn1 8.08 ± 0.16(b)
1 55
AR 7/8/00-5
76 23 00
9.20 ± 0.19(b) 76
45 50

AR 7/1/00-2 60 73 87 75 61
46 8.47 ± 0.17(b) AR 7/1/00-6

44 72
AR 7/8/00-9 40 8.27 ± 0.13(b) AR 7/7/00-7 75

9.18 ± 0.17(m) AR 7/2/00-8 35

48 65 53 7.93 ± 0.18(b)
17 10.3 ± 0.2(b) 66 75


38 74 72
45 61 68 77 AR 7/4/00-5
29 33 37 86

AR 7/8/00-12 48 40 8.08 ± 0.14(m) 71


28 79 49
13.7 ± 0.2(b) 10 85
67 63 AR 7/6/00-1

41 Pzsch3 48
Q2 7.46 ± 0.30(b) 55
55 66

18 10 71 52 AR 7/4/00-1
0 84
Pzsch3 56 72 82 8.35 ± 0.23(b) 74
17 69
28 54 60
45 25
59 32
69 34 12
38 65 34

Shen-ti fault

38 72 30 47 62 15
13 61
37 33
27 42
18 Pzsch4 28
Q2 36 38 33 4000
23 37
area unmapped

31 Torbashi fault 33

64 Q1
AR 4/28/00-8
500 102 ± 2(m)
84 Pzsch5 120 ± 2(b) 54

17 82



53 AR 4/28/00-9


107 ± 2(b)





43 W

4 62

Shen-ti fault Tashkorgan 44 a


0 5 10

Contour Interval: 200 m


Esy 62 Pzsch5


n fau

AR 4/2700-11 Q
123 ± 3(b)

75° 00′ 75° 30′



Figure 5. (A) Geologic map of the southern Kongur Shan normal fault. (B) Lower-hemisphere equal-area stereonet showing foliation planes (black lines), poles to planes (blue
crosses), and lineations (red squares) from the Muztaghata massif.