Magnitude of Late Quaternary Left-Lateral Displacements Along the North Edge of Tibet

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Science  08 Dec 1989:
Vol. 246, Issue 4935, pp. 1285-1289
DOI: 10.1126/science.246.4935.1285


Images taken by the earth observation satellite SPOT of the Quaternary morphology at 18 sites on the 2000-kilometer-long Altyn Tagh fault at the north edge of Tibet demonstrate that it is outstandingly active. Long-term, left-lateral strike-slip offsets of stream channels, alluvial terrace edges, and glacial moraines along the fault cluster between 100 and 400 meters. The high elevation of the sites, mostly above 4000 meters in the periglacial zone, suggests that most offsets resulted from slip on the fault since the beginning of the Holocene. These data imply that slip rates are 2 to 3 centimeters per year along much of the fault length and support the hypothesis that the continuing penetration of India into Asia forces Tibet rapidly toward the east.

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