Synclines contribution to mountain peak building: examples from Western Zagros, Kurdistan Region

Synclines contribution to mountain peak building: examples from Western Zagros, Kurdistan Region, Northeastern Iraq

Kamal Haji Karim1 and Polla Azad Khanaqa2

1Professor at Department of Geology, University of Sulaimani, Sulaimaniyah, Iraq

2Professor at   Sulaimani Polytechnic University (SPU) & Kurdistan Institution for Strategic Studies and Scientific Research, Qirge, Sulaimani, KRG/Iraq ,  [email protected]

Published in: Arabian Journal of Geoscience, 2017



      The current study focuses on roles of the synclines in building mountains of the Zagros Fold-Thrust Belt from Northeastern Iraq, Kurdistan Region. The studied area is located in the Imbricated Zone, which is continuation of Simply Folded Zone of Iran. In some parts of this zone, the synclines contribute to building nearly half of the mountains and increase the relief contrast of the landscapes.  The role of syncline in building mountains is opposite to its apparent intrinsic shape which is located in low land and normally forms synclinal valleys. In studied area, this phenomenon is observable in the areas that are complexly deformed, deeply exhumed and predominately composed of the carbonate rocks. In these areas, exhumation and stream erosion have removed high thickness of overburden rocks and the tectonic stresses have crenulated carbonate rocks in the synclines. Due to these processes, these synclines are observable on the peak of the mountains now. The contribution of synclines in mountain building is related to three properties, the first is folding of synclines in confined condition (relative to anticlines) by which they have transformed to highly compact and stiff rocks. The second is accumulation of hydrothermal or meteoric water in the synclines due to its downward bending which aids precipitation of minerals and heals the possible tectonically and lithostatically induced fractures. The third is ductile deformation of synclines in confined and deeper level as compared to brittle deformation of anticlines in relatively shallower level and unconfined condition during deformation. Consequently, these factors results in an inversion of topography by which synclines are remained as mountains (high topography) above surface during exhumation while erosion removes anticlines. The result of this studied is applicable for geological, geomorphological and structural mapping in a highly deformed and deeply exhumed terrains.  The possible prediction of geomorphological position of synclines and anticlines on the mountain peaks and valley bottoms respectively is the applicable result in the above terrains.


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Post Author: Professor Kamal Haji Karim

Professor at Department of Geology, University of Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region, Iraq