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Forte A.M.,University of California at Davis | Cowgill E.,University of California at Davis | Murtuzayev I.,Geological Institute of Azerbaijan | Kangarli T.,Geological Institute of Azerbaijan | Stoica M.,University of Bucharest
Tectonics | Year: 2013

The Greater Caucasus are the northernmost extent of the Arabia-Eurasia collision and are thought to represent the main locus of shortening within the central portion of the collision zone between 40° and 48°E. Recent work suggests that in detail, since the Plio-Pleistocene, much of the shortening in the eastern portion of the Caucasus system has been focused within the Kura fold-thrust belt along the southeastern margin of the Greater Caucasus. Here we present new field mapping and stratigraphic investigations of the eastern termination of the Kura fold-thrust belt in Azerbaijan to better constrain the structural geometries, magnitude of shortening, and initiation age for this portion of the fold-thrust belt. Our work suggests that this area of the fold-thrust belt exhibits significant along-strike variations in structural style and evolution and can effectively be divided into two distinct domains at ~48°E. The western domain is characterized by a subcritical median surface slope and isolated folds and thrusts propagating out of sequence, whereas the eastern domain is dominated by a single duplex structure and a history of in-sequence development in a critically tapered wedge. We hypothesize that these variations result from changes in relative rates of syn-tectonic sedimentation, erosion, and convergence velocity along strike. We find that within the western domain, the fold-thrust belt has accommodated ~12 km of total shortening. An unconformity within the western domain brackets the initiation age of this portion of the fold-thrust belt to between 1.8 and 0.88 Ma yielding permissible average shortening rates of between 6.7 and 13.6 mm/yr. Comparison of these average shortening rates to the geodetically measured shortening rate of 8 mm/yr indicates that since initiation, the fold-thrust belt has accommodated 83-100% of convergence between the Greater and Lesser Caucasus at this longitude. © 2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Forte A.M.,University of California at Davis | Forte A.M.,Arizona State University | Sumner D.Y.,University of California at Davis | Cowgill E.,University of California at Davis | And 6 more authors.
Basin Research | Year: 2015

Relative ages of late Cenozoic stratigraphy throughout the Caspian region are referenced to regional stages that are defined by changes in microfauna and associated extreme (>1000 m) variations in Caspian base level. However, the absolute ages of these stage boundaries may be significantly diachronous because many are based on the first occurrence of either transgressive or regressive facies, the temporal occurrence of which should depend on position within a basin. Here, we estimate the degree of diachroneity along the Akchagyl regional stage boundary within the Caspian basin system by presenting two late Miocene-Pliocene aged measured sections, Sarica and Vashlovani, separated by 50 km and exposed within the Kura fold-thrust belt in the interior of the Kura Basin. The Kura Basin is a western subbasin of the South Caspian Basin and the sections presented here are located >250 km from the modern Caspian coast. New U-Pb detrital zircon ages from the Sarica section constrain the maximum depositional age for Productive Series strata, a lithostratigraphic package considered correlative with the 2-3 Myr-long regional Eoakchagylian or Kimmerian stage that corresponds to a period of extremely low (>500 m below the modern level) Caspian base level. This new maximum depositional age from the Productive Series at Sarica of 2.5 ± 0.2 Ma indicates that the regionally extensive Akchagyl transgression, which ended the deposition of the Productive Series near the Caspian coast at 3.2 Ma, may have appeared a minimum of 0.5 Myr later in the northern interior of the Kura Basin than at the modern Caspian Sea coast. The results of this work have important implications for the tectonic and stratigraphic history of the region, suggesting that the initiation of the Plio-Pleistocene Kura fold-thrust belt may have not been as diachronous along strike as previously hypothesized. More generally, these results also provide a measure of the magnitude of diachroneity possible along sequence boundaries, particularly in isolated basins. Comparison of accumulation rates between units in the interior of the Kura subbasin and the South Caspian main basin suggest that extremely large variations in these rates within low-stand deposits may be important in identifying the presence of subbasins in older stratigraphic packages. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd, European Association of Geoscientists & Engineers and International Association of Sedimentologists.

Sosson M.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Rolland Y.,University of Nice Sophia Antipolis | Muller C.,6 bis rue Haute | Danelian T.,Lille University of Science and Technology | And 8 more authors.
Geological Society Special Publication | Year: 2010

In the Lesser Caucasus three main domains are distinguished from SW to NE: (1) the autochthonous South Armenian Block (SAB), a Gondwana-derived terrane; (2) the ophiolitic Sevan-Akera suture zone; and (3) the Eurasian plate. Based on our field work, new stratigraphical, petrological, geochemical and geochronological data combined with previous data we present new insights on the subduction, obduction and collision processes recorded in the Lesser Caucasus. Two subductions are clearly identified, one related to the Neotethys subduction beneath the Eurasian margin and one intra-oceanic (SSZ) responsible for the opening of a back-arc basin which corresponds to the ophiolites of the Lesser Caucasus. The obduction occurred during the Late Coniacian to Santonian and is responsible for the widespread ophiolitic nappe outcrop in front of the suture zone. Following the subduction of oceanic lithosphere remnants under Eurasia, the collision of the SAB with Eurasia started during the Paleocene, producing 1) folding of ophiolites, arc and Upper Cretaceous formations (Transcaucasus massif to Karabakh); 2) thrusting toward SW; and 3) a foreland basin in front of the belt. Upper-Middle Eocene series unconformably cover the three domains. From Eocene to Miocene as a result of the Arabian plate collision with the SAB to the South, southward propagation of shortening featured by folding and thrusting occurred all along the belt. These deformations are sealed by a thick sequence of unconformable Miocene to Quaternary clastic and volcanic rocks of debated origin. © 2010 The Geological Society of London.

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