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Late Cenozoic Tectonic Uplift Producing Mountain Building in Comparison with Mantle Structure in the Alpine-Himalayan Belt

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DOI: 10.4236/ijg.2014.55047    7,298 Downloads   15,453 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

Tectonic uplift producing recent mountain systems has spanned in the Alpine-Himalayan Belt the time interval from Oligocene to Recent (the last 30 - 35 Ma), being divided into two stages. During the first stage, local uplands, usually not higher than middle-elevated mountains, rose and their total area increased. During the second stage (the last 5 - 2 Ma) this process was accompanied by a total uplift of the greater part of the belt. As a result, the rate of vertical movements increased, the recent mountain systems were formed, and the coarse molasses accumulated in the adjacent basins. Uplift of the land surface resulting in formation of mountain topography is an isostatic reaction to decompaction of the upper spheres of the Solid Earth. Three factors of the decompaction are discussed in the paper. These are: I, collisional compression, resulting in deformational thickening of the Earth’s crust (folding, thrusting, etc.); II, partial replacing of the lithosphere mantle by the lower-dense asthenosphere material and, as a result, decompaction of the uppermost mantle; and III, retrograde metamorphism of high-metamorphosed rocks within the lower crust and near the crust-mantle boundary and, as a result, decompaction of these rocks. These processes were initiated or facilitated by the lateral asthenosphere flows. According to the seismic tomography data, the flows spread from the stationary developed zone of the rise of deep mantle material that is expressed in the recent structure as the Ethiopian-Afar super-plume. Reworking the 400 - 700-km deep transition layer of the mantle, the sub-lithosphere flows could be enriched in sources of aqueous fluids. The flows and their fluids initiated factors II and III of the tectonic uplift and caused softening and detachment of the lithosphere, facilitating deformational thickening of the Earth’s crust, i.e., the factor I. The latter produced uplands during the entire Oligocene-Quaternary development of the orogenic belt, while the factors II and III manifested themselves only during the second stage of mountain building. The detailed studies in the Central Tien Shan and the Greater Caucasus showed that the acceleration of uplift at the second stage was caused mainly by the factor II in the Central Tien Shan and the factor III in the Greater Caucasus.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Trifonov, V. and Sokolov, S. (2014) Late Cenozoic Tectonic Uplift Producing Mountain Building in Comparison with Mantle Structure in the Alpine-Himalayan Belt. International Journal of Geosciences, 5, 497-518. doi: 10.4236/ijg.2014.55047.

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