Altyn Tagh

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Altyn Tagh


mountains extending in a northeasterly direction in Central Asia and western China, between the Kunlun and Nan Shan mountain systems. Stretching for 800 km, the Altyn Tagh divides the Tarim and Tsaidam basins. The side facing the Tarim basin is steep, with elevations exceeding 2,000 -3,000 m, and the side facing the Tsaidam basin slopes gently (500 -1,000 m). Various topographic features can be distinguished. The southwestern part is a mountain system with the highly craggy and dissected Tokkuz Davan Tagh and Ak Tagh ranges, which have a maximum elevation of 6,161 m and are covered with permanent snow and glaciers. The northeastern part consists of a series of short massifs exceeding 5,000 m with small patches of snow. The central part, which abruptly narrows and slopes downward and where ridges of 3,000 -3,500 m predominate, has a relief of soft contours that is lightly dissected. The Altyn Tagh is composed primarily of ancient gneiss, crystal shales, and phyllites. The minerals include chromites and lead, zinc, nickel, and platinum ores. The climate is arid and strongly continental. The biggest rivers, the Cherchen and its tributaries, are in the southwestern part; there are no rivers in the central part. Landscapes of broken gravel and rocky deserts predominate in the foothills. In the valleys that dissect the foothills, the vegetation is represented by plants of genera Ephedra, Haloxylon, Tamarix, and Salsola; large stretches are bare. The upper zone of the mountains is characterized by mountain steppe vegetation and alpine meadows. There are no forests, and the few animals that inhabit the mountains include wild yaks, adda antelopes, bharals, and, in the southwest, chirus.


Sinitsyn, V. M. Tsentral’naia Aziia. Moscow, 1959.
Fizicheskaia geografiia Kitaia. Moscow, 1964.
Petrov, M. P. Pustyni Tsentral’noiAzii, vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Low present-day slip rates measured from GPS and InSAR along the Karakoram and Altyn Tagh faults in addition to slow long-term geological rates can only account for limited eastward extrusion of Tibet since Mid-Miocene time.
Written for researchers in the earth sciences, this collection of papers covers such topics as the tectonic development of the Qaidam Basin, vertical-axis bending of the Altyn Tagh belt and fault and a combined model of rigid-block motion with continuous deformation.
One, called the Altyn Tagh, runs for a length of more than 2,000 km and its trace shows up on satellite images as clearly as that of the San Andreas, the great strike-slip fault in California.
Today, in the middle of the third act, continental escape seems active again, this time along the Altyn Tagh fault bordering Tibet's northeast side.
Surface deformation in Northeastern Tibet is dominated by motion on a series of major strike-slip faults that accommodate the eastward motion of the crust (Altyn Tagh, Kunlun and Haiyuan Faults) (Tapponnier and Molnar, 1977; Burchfiel et al., 1991; Zhang et al, 2004).
As part of this study, a series of magnetotelluric (MT) profiles have been collected across the Altyn Tagh Fault (ATF) in the Qinghai and Gansu provinces (Figure 1).
The shallow structure is sampled by the short period band (0.01 - 0.1 s), that gives a strike direction that is parallel to the surface trace of the Altyn Tagh Fault, as shown in the upper rose diagram on Figure 2.