Deformation mechanism of the eastern Tibetan plateau: Insights from numerical models

Yao, Qi, Xu, Xi-Wei, Xing, Hui-Lin, Zhang, Wei and Gao, Xiang (2012) Deformation mechanism of the eastern Tibetan plateau: Insights from numerical models. 地 球 物 理 学 报, 55 3: 863-874. doi:10.6038/j.issn.0001-5733.2012.03.016

Author Yao, Qi
Xu, Xi-Wei
Xing, Hui-Lin
Zhang, Wei
Gao, Xiang
Title Deformation mechanism of the eastern Tibetan plateau: Insights from numerical models
Journal name 地 球 物 理 学 报
Translated journal name Chinese Journal of Geophysics
Language of Journal Name chi
ISSN 0001-5733
Publication date 2012-03
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.6038/j.issn.0001-5733.2012.03.016
Open Access Status
Volume 55
Issue 3
Start page 863
End page 874
Total pages 12
Place of publication Beijing, China
Publisher Kexue Chubanshe
Collection year 2013
Language chi
Formatted abstract
The crustal structure of the eastern Tibetan plateau plays a key role in studying the uplift mechanism of Tibetan. Ductile flow in middle-lower crust was considered to be the main driving force in the uplifting of eastern Tibetan plateau. However, both the discovery of the low resistivity and low velocity layer between the mid-upper crust and its correspondence with the 2008 Ms8.0 Wenchuan earthquake show the possibility of southeastward splaying of coherent lithospheric blocks in eastern Tibetan plateau. Unfortunately, popular FEM models of eastern Tibetan plateau and Longmenshan fault zone in recent years were established with viscous flow of the crust. And the low resistivity and low velocity layer was set as a fault plane or a factor weakening the crust in these models. Few researchers have addressed the decoupling problem of the low resistivity and low velocity layer. The interaction of faults was ignored in previous FEM models either, for continuous thickening and deformation. In this paper, we present a coherent block model with elasto-plastic material, containing Longmenshan fault and Longriba fault which parallel to each other, setting a thin soft layer under the upper crust as the decoupling layer. A non-linear rate-independent finite element method (including the frictional contact) was carried out using R-minimum strategy to limit the step size, to simulate the block deformation of upper crust and fault behavior of the eastern Tibetan plateau. The results show that the low resistivity and low velocity layer controls the distribution of horizontal and vertical deformation on surface. The continuous lateral extrusion pressure causes quick and huge uplift of the Bayan Har block which is under the control of decoupling layer, while little uplift of the Sichuan Basin which is not controlled by decoupling layer. The difference of uplifts makes stress accumulating on the Longmenshan fault, which is the border of the two blocks, and results in large earthquake on the fault, as Wenchuan earthquake. The Longriba fault moves southeastward with the two rigid subblocks. While its shear deformation absorbs most of the strike-slip displacement added on the model boundary, and strongly reduces the strike-slip displacement in the adjacent subblock and Longmenshan fault. Therefore, the Longmenshan fault shows dominantly dip-slip reverse faulting, with a little right-lateral oblique faulting. This paper introduces deformations of coherent blocks and relative fault activities only controlled by the decoupling of the low resistivity and low velocity layer, without any other influence from ductile flow in middle-lower crust. It should be possible, therefore, to oblique stepwise rise in the eastern Tibetan plateau. This could eventually lead to more discussion about the growth of the Tibetan.
Keyword The eastern Tibetan plateau
Low resistivity and low velocity layer
Finite-element method
Longmenshan thrust belt
Longriba fault
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Abstract in English only

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Earth Sciences Publications
Official 2013 Collection
Earth Systems Science Computational Centre Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 7 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 30 Apr 2012, 20:55:45 EST by System User on behalf of Earth Systems Science Computational Centre