The Zhayao Tectonic Window of the Jurassic Yuantai Thrust System in Liaodong Peninsula, NE China: Geometry, Kinematics and Tectonic Implications

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Journal of Asian Earth Sciences



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Liaodong Peninsula on the northeastern North China Block that witnessed the spectacular Late Mesozoic tectonics is a key area to probe the transition from compression to extension. Borehole data clearly reveals that the Cambrian limestone overlay the Jurassic limestone, which identified the Yuantai thrust system in Liaodong Peninsula. Zircon grains from a granodiorite dike that intruded the thrust system yielded U-Pb age of 128.3 ± 1.3 Ma, further constraining the timing of the thrusting between Late Jurassic to early Early Cretaceous. A detailed field study of three-dimensional fault-zone exposures in the Zhayao tectonic window are conducted to decipher the thrust tectonics before the extension in Liaodong Peninsula. The key observations are: (1) meter-scale asymmetric folds in deformed mid-Cambrian rocks; (2) decameter-scale recumbent folds and secondary imbricate thrusts in deformed Middle Jurassic rocks; and (3) non-foliated breccia, fault gouge, and brittle porphyroclasts adjacent to fault planes. The combined brittle–ductile style of deformation indicates that the fault zone operated under near-surface conditions. In addition, we infer that the folds were formed first at the propagating fault tip and subsequently dismembered by normal faults. We interpret the Zhayao thrust, which is located around the margin of the tectonic window, as the frontal thrust of the Yuantai thrust system. Furthermore, by applying the theory of fault-related folds, we deduce that the Zhayao frontal thrust is a secondary duplex. Based on our field observations and borehole data, we propose an imbricate thrust model for the fold-and-thrust belt of the southern Liaodong Peninsula. The structural data indicate that the transport direction of the Yuantai thrust system was top-to-the-southeast, suggesting that the thrust system was resulted due to northwest-ward subduction of the paleo-Pacific plate during the Mesozoic.


Structural style; Kinematics; 3-D reconstruction; Thrust fault; Liaodong Peninsula; North China Block


Earth Sciences



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