Structural style and kinematics of the Taihang-Luliangshan fold belt, North China: Implications for the Yanshanian orogeny

Christopher Clinkscales, Paul Kapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The Middle-Late Jurassic to earliest Cretaceous fold belts of the Yanshanian orogen in North China remain enigmatic with respect to their coeval deformation histories and possible relationship to the contemporaneous Cordilleran-style margin of eastern Asia. We present geological mapping, structural data, and a >400-km-long, strike-perpendicular balanced cross section for the Taihang-Luliangshan fold belt exposed in the late Cenozoic central Shanxi Rift. The northeast-southwest-trending Taihang-Luliangshan fold belt consists of long-wavelength folds (~35-110 km) with ~1-9 km of structural relief cored by Archean and Paleoproterozoic metamorphic and igneous basement rocks. The fold belt accommodated ≥11 km of northwest-southeast shortening between the Taihangshan fault, bounding the North China Plain, in the east and the Ordos Basin in the west. Geological mapping in the Xizhoushan, a northeast-southwest-oriented range within the larger Taihangshan mountain belt, reveals two major basement-cored folds: (1) the Xizhou syncline, with an axial trace that extends for ~100 km and is characterized by a steep to overturned forelimb consistent with a southeast sense of vergence, and (2) the Hutuo River anticline, which exposes Archean-Paleoproterozoic rocks in its core that are unconformably overlain by shallowly dipping (<~20°) Lower Paleozoic rocks. In the Luliangshan, Mesozoic structures include the Luliang anticline, the largest recognized anticline in the region, the Ningjing syncline, which preserves a complete section of Paleozoic to Upper Jurassic strata, and the Wuzhai anticline; together, these folds are characterized by a wavelength of ~45-50 km. Shortening in the Taihang-Luliangshan fold belt is estimated to have occurred between ca. 160 Ma and 135 Ma, based on the age of the youngest deformed Upper Jurassic rocks in the Ningjing syncline, previously published low-temperature thermochronology, and regional correlations to better-studied Yanshanian fold belts. The timing of basement-involved deformation in the Taihang-Luliangshan fold belt, which formed >1000 km from the nearest plate margin, corresponds with the termination of arc magmatism along the eastern margin of Asia, implying a potential linkage to the kinematics of the westward-subducting Izanagi (paleo-Pacific) plate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)767-783
Number of pages17
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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