Constraining the timing of fault zone origin and movement history is of fundamental geotectonic importance to understand the evolution and processes of the brittle fault structures. The authors present in this paper authigenic illite K-Ar age data from the fault gouge samples, collected from the Dien Bien Phu Fault (DBPF) in the Dien Bien province, Vietnam as well as in a major strike-slip fault zone in South-East Asia; all of which played important roles in the structural formation and geotectonic development of northwestern Vietnam. The gouge fault samples were separated into four grain-size fractions (< 0.1 μm, 0.1–0.4 μm, 0.4–1.0 μm and 1.0–2.0 μm). The K-Ar ages of the fractions were divided into two age groups, from 26 to 29 Ma and 130 Ma. The timing of the fault movements is defined at 26 ± 0.24 Ma, 29 ± 0.61 Ma, 130.1 ± 1.27 Ma and 130.7 ± 1.29 Ma. This indicates that the Dien Bien Phu Fault underwent two movements, first in the Early Cretaceous, with an age of about 130 Ma and second in the Oligocene (Paleogene), with an age of about 26–29 Ma. The ductile deformation of the DBPF terminated during the Early Cretaceous. These studies also indicate slow exhumation of the Dien Bien granitoid complex during the Cretaceous times. The Oligocene ages indicate that the DBPF had been reactivated by the SE extrusion and clock-wise rotation of the Indochina block, caused by the collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates. This tectonic event led to the DBPF brittle-sinistral movement, causing the exhumation phase along the fault. This movement period (ca. 26–29 Ma) is coexistent with 600–700 km sinistral shearing along the Red River–Ailao Shan fault. This is the first report determining the absolute age constraints of multi-activated tectonic events, affecting the Dien Bien Phu Fault using the K-Ar dating method for the gouge samples.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth-Surface Processes