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Tim Cope - Tectonics of NE China

Research Description:

My research centers on the tectonic development of northeastern China during the assembly of Asia. The Asian continent is composed of numerous continental fragments and volcanic islands that collided with each other over the course of the last 270 million years. The most recent manifestation of this process is the collision of India with Asia, which has uplifted the Himalayan mountain range and the Tibet plateau, collectively known as the "roof of the world". The India-Asia collision has also triggered the uplift of numerous mountain ranges in Asia that are distant from the collision zone itself, such as the Tian Shan, Kunlun Shan, and Hindu Kush. Northeast of Beijing, in the rugged terrain traversed by the Great Wall, lies an ancient mountain range that was roughly analogous to these distant collisional mountain ranges. The Yanshan fold-thrust belt represents the eroded remains of a once-great mountain belt that developed as a result of at least three separate collisional events. The work of my research group has been to establish the ages of multiple uplift and deformation events in this region, in order to better understand the processes involved in the assembly of Asia and the long-term effects of continental collision. The methods our group has employed over the years include geologic field mapping (we climb mountains in the Yanshan belt and look at faulted and folded rocks to establish their ages relative to regional tectonic events), stable isotope methods (analyzing the oxygen-isotope content of ancient soils can yield information about climate and elevation), and radiometric dating (certain rock types can be dated using radiometric isotopes as a "clock").

Recent Student-Faculty Research Projects:

Tectonic development of the Yanshan Fold-Thrust Belt, NE China (2012-2015) 

National Science Foundation award EAR-1145230

Student Collaborators: Martha Parsons (GEO), Yihao Xu (GEO), & Stephen Dobbs (GEO)

Parsons, M., Dobbs, S., Xu, Y., & Cope, T., 2012, Multidirectional shortening in the Yanshan fold-thrust belt, China, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, 44(7).

Geology beneath the Great Wall (2007-2011)

Student Collaborators: Jake Willingham (GEO), John Wellik (GEO), Paul Mooney (SRF), Ali Barnes (GEO/SRF),
Ben Gibson (GEO), & Ben Golden (SRF)

Willingham, Jake T., Cope, T. D., Li, C.M., Teng, F., and Zhang, C. H., 2011, Crustal extension and volcanism interleaved with Jurassic shortening in the Yanshan fold-thrust belt, northeast China, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, 43(5), p. 101

Cope, T., Gibson, B., and Barnes, A., 2007, Mesozoic structural evolution of the Yanshan fold-thrust belt, NE China, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, 39(6), p. 237.

Uplift history of the southeastern Tibetan plateau (2006)

Student Collaborators: Alex Breitinger (SRF)

The Chengde allochthon, NE China: one fault or two? (2004)

Student Collaborators: Audrey Gehlhausen (GEO)

Cope, T., and Gehlhausen, A., 2004, The Chengde allochthon, Hebei Province, NE China: one fault or two?, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, 36(5), p. 429.

What killed the feathered dinosaurs of NE China? (2004)

Student Collaborators: Audrey Gehlhausen (GEO)

Other significant publications:

Graham, S. A., Cope, T., Johnson, C. L., and Ritts, B. D., 2012, Sedimentary basins of the late Mesozoic extensional domain of China and Mongolia, in Bally, B. (ed.), Phanerozoic Rift Systems and Sedimentary Basins, 421-439, DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-444-56356-9.00016-X.

Cope, T. D., Ping, L., Zhang, X. Y., Zhang, X. J., Song, J., Zhou, G., and Shultz, M. R., 2010, Structural controls on facies distribution in a small half-graben basin: Luanping basin, NE China, Basin Research, 22(1), 33-44.

Sullivan, C., Hone, D. W. E., Cope, T. D., Yang, L., and Liu, J., 2009, A new occurrence of small therapod tracks in the Houcheng (Tuchengzi) Formation of Hebei Province, China, Vertebrata PalAsiatica, 47(1), 35-52.

Cope, T. D., Shultz, M. R., and Graham, S. A., 2007, Detrital record of Mesozoic shortening in the Yanshan belt, NE China: testing structural interpretations with basin analysis, Basin Research, 19, 253–272, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2117.2007.00321.x.