Early Cretaceous displacement on the Tanymas thrust fault, Northern Pamir, Tajikistan, and regional tectonic implications

Dustin P. Villarreal, Alexander C. Robinson, James B. Chapman, Barbara Carrapa, Ilhomjon Oimuhammadzoda, Mustafo Gadoev, Yipeng Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An ongoing question in understanding the evolution of the Himalayan-Tibetan orogeny is how much of the observed upper crustal shortening and crustal thickness is related to the Cenozoic collision between India and Asia vs earlier tectonic events along the southern margin of Asia. While the Pamir Mountains located at the western end of the orogen have been proposed to have experienced significant Cenozoic shortening, recent studies have interpreted upper crustal shortening to be primarily mid- to Late Cretaceous. To further understand the timing of upper crustal deformation in the Pamir, we investigated synorogenic clastic deposits within the footwall of the north-dipping Tanymas thrust fault along the suture between the Northern and Central Pamir terranes. Sandstones from these deposits were analyzed by detrital zircon U-Pb, zircon fission track, and muscovite 40Ar/39Ar analyses to assess the age and source of the detritus. Results show the deposits were sourced from the Northern Pamir (hanging wall of the Tanymas thrust) and provide an Early Cretaceous maximum deposition age of ∼130–120 Ma, interpreted to constrain their age and date motion on the Tanymas thrust fault as Early Cretaceous. Our results, integrated with previous studies, show Cretaceous deformation in the Pamir began in the Northern Pamir (∼140–110 Ma) before sweeping into the Southern Pamir in the mid- to Late Cretaceous (∼110–75 Ma). These results are consistent with previous interpretations of an Early Cretaceous phase of shallow- or flat-slab northward subduction followed by slab rollback and southward migration of deformation and magmatism in the mid- Cretaceous.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100147
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences: X
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023


  • Clastic deposits
  • Cretaceous
  • Pamir
  • Tanymas Thrust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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