Synchronous Oligocene-Miocene Metamorphism of the Pamir and North Himalaya Driven by Plate-scale Dynamics

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Geological Sciences

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Gneiss domes in the Pamir (Central Asia) and the Himalaya provide key data on mid- to deep-crustal processes operating during the India-Asia collision. Laser ablation split-stream inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (LASS-ICP-MS) data from monazite in these domes yield a time record from U/Th-Pb dates and a petrologic record from rare earth element (REE) abundances. Seven samples from the Pamir and six samples from the north Himalayan gneiss domes yield almost identical monazite dates of ca. 28–15 Ma. Most monazite has invariant heavy REE (HREE) abundances; two samples, however, have older monazite that records progressive HREE depletion and two samples have younger monazite that records progressive HREE enrichment. These variations in HREE are compatible with increasing garnet abundance—prograde metamorphism—until ca. 20 Ma, and decreasing garnet abundance thereafter. The change from HREE depletion to enrichment may record a transition from crustal thickening and heating to dome exhumation and cooling. This documentation of synchronous Barrovian metamorphism within domes of Indian crust along the margin of the orogen (Himalaya) and within domes of Asian crust within the core of the orogen (Pamir) is best explained by a plate-scale driving force rather than by local events. We propose that widespread, synchronous thickening was initiated by the resumption of Indian subduction following slab breakoff and then terminated by a second slab-tearing event—both plate-scale events inferred from tomography.


This article was originally published in Geology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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