Tectonic blocks and suture zones of eastern Thailand: evidence from enhanced airborne geophysical analysis

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Arak Sangsomphong
Dhiti Tulyatid
Thanop Thitimakorn
Punya Charusiri


Airborne geophysical data were used to analyze the complex structures of eastern Thailand. For visual interpretation, the magnetic data were enhanced by the analytical signal, and we used reduction to the pole (RTP) and vertical derivative (VD) grid methods, while the radiometric data were enhanced by false-colored composites and rectification. The main regional structure of this area trends roughly in northwest-southeast direction, with sinistral faulting movements. These are the result of compression tectonics (sigma_1 in an east-west direction) that generated strike-slip movement during the pre Indian-Asian collision. These faults are cross-cut by the northeast-southwest-running sinistral fault and the northwest-southeast dextral fault, which occurred following the Indian-Asian collision, from the transpession sinistral shear in the northwest-southeast direction. Three distinct geophysical domains are discernible; the Northern, Central and Southern Domains. These three domains correspond very well with the established geotectonic units, as the Northern Domain with the Indochina block, the Central Domain with the Nakhonthai block, the Upper Southern Sub-domain with the Lampang-Chaing Rai block, and the Lower Southern Sub-domain with the Shan Thai block. The Indochina block is a single unit with moderate radiometric intensities and a high magnetic signature. The direction of the east-west lineament pattern is underlain by Mesozoic non-marine sedimentary rock, with mafic igneous bodies beneath this. The Nakhonthai block has a strong magnetic signature and a very weak radiometric intensity, with Late Paleozoic-Early Mesozoic volcanic rock and mélange zones that are largely covered by Cenozoic sediments. The boundaries of this block are the southern extension of the Mae Ping Faults and are oriented in the northwest-southeast direction. The Lampang-Chaing Rai and Shan Thai blocks, with very weak to moderate magnetic signatures and moderate to very strong radiometric intensities are dominated by marine clastic and igneous rocks or a northwest-southeast trending deformation zone of inferred Precambrian complexes, respectively. It is suggested that these tectonic plates collided against one another in a west-east direction.

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Sangsomphong, A., Tulyatid, D., Thitimakorn, T. and Charusiri, P. (2013) “Tectonic blocks and suture zones of eastern Thailand: evidence from enhanced airborne geophysical analysis”, Annals of Geophysics, 56(1), p. R0102. doi: 10.4401/ag-5547.
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