Record of crustal thickening and synconvergent extension from the Dajiamang Tso Rift, southern Tibet

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Gangdese Rifts such as the Dajiamang Tso Rift of south-central Tibet provide an opportunity to study the dynamics of synconvergent extension in contractional orogenic belts. In this study, we present quantitative crustal thickness estimates calculated from Trace/Rare Earth Element zircon data paired with U-Pb geochronology and zircon-He thermochronology. These data constrain the timing and rates of exhumation in the Dajiamang Tso Rift and provide a basis for evaluating dynamic models of synconvergent extension. Our results also provide a semi-continuous record of Mid-Cretaceous to Miocene evolution of the Himalayan-Tibetan orogenic belt along the India-Asia suture zone. We report igneous zircon U-Pb ages of ~103 Ma and 70-42 Ma for samples collected from the Xigaze forearc basin and Gangdese Batholith/Linzizong Formation, respectively. Zircon-He cooling ages of forearc rocks in the hanging wall of the Great Counter Thrust are ~28 Ma while Gangdese arc samples in the footwalls of the Dajiamang Tso Rift are 16-8 Ma. These data reveal the approximate timing of the switch from contraction to extension along the India-Asia suture zone (minimum 16 Ma). Crustal-thickness trends from zircon geochemistry reveal possible crustal thinning (to ~40 km) immediately prior to India-Asia collision onset (100-70 Ma). Following collision onset, crustal thickness increases to 50 km by 40 Ma with continued thickening until the early Miocene supported by regional data from the Tibetan Magmatism Database. Modern crustal thickness estimates based on geophysical observations show no evidence for crustal thinning following the onset of E-W extension (~16 Ma), suggesting that modern crustal thickness is likely facilitated by underthrusting Indian lithosphere balanced by upper plate extension.




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