Abstract: This project is proposed for conducting a comparative study of the Tibet/Himalaya and Caucasus/Iran orogens, two most important collision zones that take place in East and West Asia, respectively, along the Alpine-Zagros-Himalayan range or so-called Tethyan orogenic belt, i.e., the largest mountain range on the modern Earth. This study aims at a more comprehensive understanding of the magmatic and tectonic evolution in continent-continent collision zones, with the Tibet/Himalaya exemplifying a well-established or mature stage of collisional orogen and the Caucasus/Iran an initial to intermediate stage, to depict the whole spectrum of geodynamic processes through which collisional orogeny evolves.
Based on our successful experiences from the Tibet/Himalaya region performed in the past 10+ years and most recent results from the Caucasus/Iran belt obtained by the ongoing Silk Road Project, this newly proposed project has two main prospects, one is to maintain our leading position in the study of tectonomagmatic evolution in the Tibet/Himalaya orogen and neighboring regions, and the other is to create the competitive edge in the Caucasus/Iran belt by performing furthermore detailed work in specific areas. Key issues that we anticipate to better understand include the overall processes of collisional orogenesis, more specifically, the magmatism, the age, rate, style and depth of active deformation, and seismogenic structures (crustal and mantle). It is emphasized that these key targets involve several fundamental problems in continental dynamics and plate tectonics, and that the proposed project presents a rare opportunity for the NTU-Geosciences team to lead the research in the Caucasus/Iran orogen, i.e., an important frontier where keen international competition is yet to fully develop.
We have assembled a capable team “inherited” from the CREATE and ongoing Silk Road (I) projects, with expertise in geochronology, petrology, geochemistry, seismology, geodesy, structural geology and tectonics, to work together for a multidisciplinary investigation of some fundamental problems in continental dynamics. Therefore, if fully funded, this project will not only continue/extend our studies over the Tibet/Himalaya orogenic belt, but also start detailed fieldworks in specific areas in the Caucasus-Iran orogen, coupled with deploying new seismic and geodetic arrays in the latter region. The results are expected to be brand new and fundamental contribution to understanding how major continents assemble and evolve through collision. This project consists essentially of two parts, one is detailed field investigation c/w sampling in target areas and the other is high quality analyses of the collected samples in laboratories. While the latter can be done largely at NTU-Geosciences, where several state-of-the-art analytical facilities have recently been set up, the former involves numerous international collaborations that have been established in the past few years through the CREATE and Silk Road (I) projects.