Late Triassic Sedimentary Records in the Northern Tethyan Himalaya: Tectonic Link with Greater India (2018)

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The Upper Triassic flysch sediments (Nieru Formation and Langjiexue Group) exposed in the Eastern Tethyan Himalayan Sequence are crucial for unraveling the controversial paleogeography and paleotectonics of the Himalayan orogen. This work reports new detrital zircon U-Pb ages and whole-rock geochemical data for clastic rocks from flysch strata in the Shannan area. The mineral modal composition data suggest that these units were mainly sourced from recycled orogen provenances. The chemical compositions of the sandstones in the strata are similar to the chemical composition of upper continental crust. These rocks have relatively low Chemical Index of Alteration values (with an average of 62) and Index of Compositional Variability values (0.69), indicating that they experienced weak weathering and were mainly derived from a mature source. The geochemical compositions of the Upper Triassic strata are similar to those of graywackes from continental island arcs and are indicative of an acidic-intermediate igneous source. Furthermore, hornblende and feldspar experienced decomposition in the provenance, and the sediment became enriched in zircon and monazite during sediment transport. The detrital zircons in the strata feature two main age peaks at 225–275 Ma and 500–600 Ma, nearly continuous Paleoproterozoic to Neoproterozoic ages, and a broad inconspicuous cluster in the Tonian–Stenian (800–1200 Ma). The detrital zircons from the Upper Triassic sandstones in the study area lack peaks at 300–325 Ma (characteristic of the Lhasa block) and 1150–1200 Ma (characteristic of the Lhasa and West Australia blocks). Therefore, neither the Lhasa block nor the West Australia blocks likely acted as the main provenance of the Upper Triassic strata. Newly discovered Permian–Triassic basalt and mafic dikes in the Himalayas could have provided the 225–275 Ma detrital zircons. Therefore, Indian and Himalayan units were the main provenances of the flysch strata. The Tethyan Himalaya was part of the northern passive margin and was not an exotic terrane separated from India during the Permian to Early Cretaceous. This evidence suggests that the Neo-Tethyan ocean opened prior to the Late Triassic and that the Upper Triassic deposits were derived from continental crustal fragments adjacent to the northern passive continental margin of Greater India.
Year: 2018
Language: English
In: Geoscience Frontiers, 9 (1): 273-291 p.

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