Development of foreland basins around western Sichuan basin, and implications for mountain building in eastern Tibet

Monday, 15 December 2014
Shi Chen, IGP Institute of Geophysics, China Earthquake Administration, Beijing, China and Mian Liu, University of Missouri Columbia, Columbia, MO, United States
The Sichuan basin is surrounded by the Tibetan Plateau to the west, and the Michang Shan and Daba Shan mountains to the north and northwest. Foreland basins have been developed along the western and northern margins of the Sichuan basin since Triassic, receiving sediments with significant along-strike variations. These sediment records provide useful insights into the history of mountain building around the Sichuan Basin. We have collected exploration well data from western Sichuan Basin. Using backstripping, we reconstructed the basement deformation history, which reflect sedimentary and tectonic loadings related to mountain building. We used a 3-D numerical modeling technique with multi-grid technique to simulate flexural deformation of the Sichuan Basin lithosphere, and to infer tectonic loading and mountain building along western and northern margins of the Sichuan Basin from the late Triassic to the Cenozoic. Our results suggest that the shortening of the Daba Shan and Michuan Shan orogens mainly occurred during the late Jurassic-Cretaceous. During Cenozoic, the tectonic loading mainly occurred along the southwestern margins of the Sichuan Basin, corresponding to the development of the Longmen Shan mountain belt. The tectonic loading of the northern Longmen Shan on the Sichuan Basin has been markedly reduced since the Cenozoic, evidenced by the lack of Cenozoic foreland basin development. This indicates mechanical decoupling between uplift of the Tibetan Plateau and the Sichuan Basin, consistent with the deep down-cutting of the Longmen Shan fault and predominantly strike-slip motion on the fault. The limited Cenozoic foreland basin development in the southwestern margin of the Sichuan Basin is consistent with localized high-angle thrusting of the southern Longmen Shan mountains. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants 41104046).