Intracontinental Deformation And Surface Uplift In Mongolia

Team Members

  • Richard W. Carlson (DTM)
  • Karl Wegmann (North Carolina State University)
  • Anne Meltzer, Bruce Idleman, Peter Zeitler, Dork Sahagian (Lehigh University)
  • Page Chamberlain (Stanford University)


Mongolia Sponsors

High Topography in Continental Interiors

With its focus on the lateral motion of lithospheric plates, plate tectonics effectively explains many first-order observations about Earth, such as the global distribution of earthquakes, volcanoes, mountain belts, the relative height and age of continents and ocean basins, and the transfer of material between the surface and deeper parts of the Earth at subduction zones and rifts. While vertical motion, uplift, and subsidence, have long been recognized as an important part of continental geology, the formation of continental plateaus is not predicted by plate tectonics. The goal of this project is to understand the processes responsible for developing high topography in continental interiors and to place them in within the larger framework of plate tectonics.

Mongolia Research Photo
Catching grayling. Photo by Karl Wegmann (North Carolina State University)
Photo by Karl Wegmann
Photo by Karl Wegmann (North Carolina State University)

Why study the Hangay?

The Hangay in Mongolia represents a region of high topography embedded deep within the continental interior of Central Asia. Several lines of evidence suggest that the high-elevation, low-relief topography in the Hangay developed recently in geologic terms and that the geodynamic processes responsible for uplift are still active. Studying a young, active intracontinental uplift provides a special opportunity to observe and unravel these processes. More broadly, the interconnection between deformation of the continents, the development of topography, and global climate is an active area of earth science research. Study of the Hangay Dome will help us better understand the workings of our dynamic planet and how Earth processes impact the environment in which we live.

Our work focuses on characterizing the physical properties and structure of the lithosphere and sublithospheric mantle, and the timing, rate, and pattern of surface uplift in the Hangay. We are carrying out studies in geomorphology, geochronology, thermochronology, paleoaltimetry, biogeography, petrology, geochemistry, and seismology.

Click here to view the project website.