Mountain building processes during continent-continent collision in the Uralides
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Since the early 1990's the Paleozoic Uralide Orogen of Russia has been the target of a significant research initiative as part of EUROPROBE and GEODE, both European Science Foundation programmes. One of the main objectives of these research programmes was the determination of the tectonic processes that went into the formation of the orogen. In this review paper we focus on the Late Paleozoic continent-continent collision that took place between Laurussia and Kazakhstania. Research in the Uralides was concentrated around two deep seismic profiles crossing the orogen. These were accompanied by geological, geophysical, geochronological, geochemical, and low-temperature thermochronological studies. The seismic profiles demonstrate that the Uralides has an overall bivergent structural architecture, but with significantly different reflectivity characteristics from one tectonic zone to another. The integration of other types of data sets with the seismic data allows us to interpret what tectonic processes where responsible for the formation of the structural architecture, and when they were active. On the basis of these data, we suggest that the changes in the crustal-scale structural architecture indicate that there was significant partitioning of tectonothermal conditions and deformation from zone to zone across major fault systems, and between the lower and upper crust. Also, a number of the structural features revealed in the bivergent architecture of the orogen formed either in the Neoproterozoic or in the Paleozoic, prior to continent-continent collision. From the end of continent-continent collision to the present, low-temperature thermochronology suggests that the evolution of the Uralides has been dominated by erosion and slow exhumation. Despite some evidence for more recent topographic uplift, it has so far proven difficult to quantify it. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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