EGU2020-6011, updated on 10 Jan 2024
EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Contemporary uplift of the Kunlun Shan, Northern Tibetan Plateau

Shaozhuo Liu1,2, jean-Mathieu Nocquet3,4, Yann Klinger3, Xiwei Xu5, Guihua Chen2, Guihua Yu2, and Sigurjón Jónsson1
Shaozhuo Liu et al.
  • 1KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia (
  • 2Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration, Beijing, China
  • 3Université de Paris, Institut de physique du globe de Paris, CNRS, F-75005 Paris, France ( and
  • 4Geoazur, IRD, Université Côte d’Azur, CNRS, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, Valbonne, France.
  • 5Institute of Crustal Dynamics, China Earthquake Administration, Beijing, China (

GPS observations across active mountain ranges provide essential constraints on uplift rates, which sheds light on the underlying physical processes contributing to the development of topography. The Kunlun Shan (KLS) mountain range bounds the topographic high of the northern Tibetan Plateau. The elevation across the range sharply decreases from >4000 m in the interior of the plateau to ~2700 m in the Qaidam Basin. The mechanism responsible for its formation is debated with several models proposed on the basis of seismological and geological data. Here we consider data constraints from a cGPS profile that runs across the KLS and was installed in 2007. Our GPS time series reveal direct mechanical response to the crustal thickening across the KLS and therefore provide a promising dataset against which some geodynamical models can be tested.  Based on the GPS time series, we estimate rates of tectonic uplift and evaluate the impacts originating from reference frame drifts, common mode errors, some non-tectonic signals (e.g., hydrological loading), time-correlated noise, and postseismic transients of recent large earthquake. The GPS-derived uplift rate is ~1 mm/yr at the KLS. We find that ~2 mm/yr deep slip on a low- or intermediate-angle south-dipping thrust fault can explain the GPS-derived uplift rate. The possibility of a high-angle thrust fault, as has been proposed for the Longmen Shan (southeastern Tibetan Plateau), does not appear to be likely in the KLS case.

How to cite: Liu, S., Nocquet, J.-M., Klinger, Y., Xu, X., Chen, G., Yu, G., and Jónsson, S.: Contemporary uplift of the Kunlun Shan, Northern Tibetan Plateau, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-6011,, 2020.


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