The Detrital White Mica 40Ar/39Ar Record of the Katawaz Remnant Ocean Basin, Pakistan, and Tectonic Implications for the Himalayan Source Region
Abstract:The Paleogene-Neogene sedimentary rocks in the Katawaz remnant ocean basin, Pakistan were thought to be a product of a fan-deltaic system, analogous to the modern Indus River and delta. A preliminary detrital zircon U-Pb study (Carter et al 2010) supported materials derived from the nascent western Himalaya and associated magmatic arc but that study was based on too few samples to fully characterize the whole series. Moreover, the chronology in the Katawaz basin was previously not well constrained, which impedes accurate comparison to other Himalaya foreland records.
Here, we present a densely sampled study of detrital white mica 40Ar/39Ar. This study aims to: (1) constrain sedimentary ages of major lithostratigraphic units, (2) understand the exhumation history of the source region, and (3) reconstruct the paleodrainage system in NW Himalayan foreland. New 40Ar/39Ar data, together with a complementary study of detrital zircon U-Pb, constrain the sand-rich, fluvial-dominated Shaigalu Member to span from <34-36 Ma (basal sample) to <22 Ma (uppermost sample). The basal Shaigalu Member demonstrates similarity of ages of detrital zircon U-Pb and detrital white mica 40Ar/39Ar; both are characterized by a dominant peak of ca. 37 Ma. The dominant 37 Ma peak of detrital white mica 40Ar/39Ar ages has also been identified in the late Eocene Balakot Formation (Najman et al. 2001), the oldest terrestrial unit in the Himalayan peripheral foreland basin, and which is Himalayan-derived. We interpret the similarity in youngest age peak (37 Ma) between U-Pb and 40Ar/39Ar as a signal of rapid exhumation related to a rising western Himalaya. Our new 40Ar/39Ar data also reveal that sediment sources changed through time, as demonstrated by the disappearance of the 37 Ma population up-section and re-occurrence at the top. This could be related to either migration of the drainage system and/or changes in sediment sources. Finally, our study indicates that the latest Eocene rapid exhumation in the western Himalaya was coeval with its eastern counterpart, as observed in sedimentary records in Bengal Basin, Bangladesh (Najman et al 2008). Both reveal that detritus that reached the remnant ocean basins in west and east were archives of early orogenesis of the Himalaya.