Talas–Fergana Fault Cenozoic timing of deformation and its relation to Pamir indentation
Regional strike-slip faults are widely distributed in continental interiors and play a major role in the distribution of far-field deformation due to continental collisions. Constraining the deformation history of the Talas–Fergana Fault (TFF), one of the largest of such faults in the Himalayan deformed interior, is vital to comprehend the hinterland kinematics of the India–Asia collision. New apatite fission track results from the NW Tien Shan define a rapid exhumation event at c. 25 Ma. This event is correlated with a synchronous pulse in the South Tien Shan, implying that both ranges experienced a simultaneous onset of rapid exhumation. We suggest that strike-slip motion along the TFF commenced at c. 25 Ma, facilitating counter-clockwise rotation of the Fergana Basin and enabling exhumation of the linked horsetail splays. Pamir indentation, located south of the Western Tien Shan, is postulated to be underway by c. 20 Ma. Recently published results suggest synchronous strike-slip deformation in the western Tarim Basin and eastern flank of the Pamir. Based on our results and published data, we are able to connect Tarim and Pamir deformation to the onset of TFF slip. We suggest that this pre-existing regional structure was responsible for transferring Pamir-induced shortening to the NW Tien Shan.