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The structural framework of Greater China consists of three positive areas and the geosynclines that separate and enclose them. These are compared with analogous features of eastern North America.
A thick succession of Paleozoic formations accumulated in a great trough which extended northeast and southwest across China proper. At the end of Ordovician time this trough was restricted on the north and Silurian, Devonian and Mississippian strata are unrepresented in north China. The Pennsylvanian and Permian seas, however, again extended into that area.
Eastern Asia was uplifted at the end of Triassic time and subsequent sedimentation was almost entirely non-marine. Mountain-forming movements, which began in mid-Pennsylvanian time and have continued with modifications to the present, produced a series of shifting sedimentary basins in which all later formations accumulated.
The structure of central Asia is dominated by curving east-west mountain arcs but the coastal region is characterized by northeast-southwest trending structures. Throughout much of China proper these two systems have produced a complicated interference pattern.
Diastrophism that affected central and eastern Asia since the Paleozoic era was so profound that most parts of China are intensely folded and faulted. Five large sedimentary basins are present, however, two in Chinese Turkistan, one in Tibet, and two in western and northern China proper.
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