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ABSTRACT: Regional Tectonics of Myanmar (Burma) and Adjacent Areas

John R. Everett, Orville R. Russell, Ronald J. Staskowski, Susan Pataky Loyd, Veena Malhotra Tabbutt, Peter Dolan, Alan Stein

Analysis of 38 contiguous Landsat Multispectral Scanner scenes acquired over Myanmar (Burma) reveals numerous large-scale features associated with margins of the Burman plate, previously unidentified northeast-southwest-trending discontinuities, important extensions of previously mapped fault trends, and numerous structural features that appear favorable for petroleum exploration. A mosaic of these scenes at 1:1,000,000 scale shows a large number of tectonic elements and their spatial relationships.

Within the area of investigation are portions of the Indian; Burman, Lhasa, and Shan-Thai plates, and perhaps other, smaller plates. The Himalayan front and Indo-Burman Ranges manifest effects of current and recently past plate movement. The complexity of the kinematic history accounts for the diversity of structural features in the area. The last major event in this long and violent saga, which began in middle Miocene (approximately 11 Ma) time and continues to the present, is the recent change from a collisional to a right-lateral strike-slip transform margin between the Indian and Burman plates.

The complexity of the structures visible is the product of multiple plate collisions, rotation of the Indian plate and parts of the Asian plate, and long-continued convergence that changed velocity and direction through time. The most obvious evidence of this complexity, which is immediately apparent on geologic maps or the Landsat mosaic of the region, is the almost right-angle relationship of the folds of the Indo-Burman Ranges and the frontal thrusts and suture zones of the Himalaya. These two sets of compressive features imply maximum compressive stress axes that lie at right angles to each other. The implications are either that the orientation of the stress field changes rapidly over a short distance or that the stress field has changed through time. Both occurrences seem to be rue. India, with Burma in tow, is moving northward and rocks at least as young as Pliocene are involved in the folding of the Indo-Burman Ranges. The crisp appearance of the Shan Boundary fault and parallel right-lateral faults indicate recent movement, and first motion data from recent earthquakes suggest that north-trending thrusts as well as right-lateral faults are currently active.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91003©1990 AAPG Annual Convention, San Francisco, California, June 3-6, 1990