Integrating thermochronology with numerical plate-tectonic models: A case study for Central Asia

Glorie, Stijn1; Zahirovic, Sabin2; Kohlmann, Fabian1,3

1The University of Adelaide, Department of Earth Sciences, Adelaide, Australia, 2The University of Sydney, School of Geosciences, Sydney, Australia, 3Lithodat Pty. Ltd., Melbourne, Australia

The low-temperature thermal history of Central Asia has been extensively studied over the last decade. The exhumation history of this intracontinental deformation zone, derived from thermochronological studies, is often linked to far-field effects associated with discrete tectonic events at the former (Meso-Cenozoic) continental margins. While these links are often speculative, the development of numerical plate-tectonic models, with deformable plate-margins, now allows a more detailed evaluation of how tectonic processes at the margins might have propagated into the Eurasian interior. In this contribution, we present a comprehensive dataset of apatite fission track thermal history models for Central Asia. For over 400 sample locations, published thermal history models have been digitised and standardised, and the time-integrated cooling gradient for each sample has been calculated for each 1 Ma increment between 250 Ma and present day. These data are plotted on the latest GPlates model to reveal how the Eurasian interior responds to modelled plate-tectonic processes. The results show how cooling related with intracontinental deformation propagates from the Tian Shan to the Altai during the Mesozoic in response to roll-back processes in the Tethys Ocean. Cenozoic cooling in the Tian Shan starts at ~55 Ma and accelerates at ~30-25 Ma, which provides constraints on the timing of strain propagation from the India-Eurasia collision.


Stijn Glorie completed a PhD in Geology in 2012, followed by a short post-doctoral fellowship at Ghent University, on intracontinental deformation within Central Asia. In March 2013, he was appointed as a Lecturer and in 2015 he was promoted to Senior Lecturer at The University of Adelaide.

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