The Limits of Extrusion in the Western Himalaya

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Kexin Zhang, Alexander G Webb, Dennis Donaldson, Shelby Johnson and Tyler Elorriaga, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, United States
Himalayan orogenesis is commonly explained by 1) extrusion models, involving expulsion of high-grade rocks southwards from beneath Tibet and up towards the High Himalayan orographic front, and/or 2) duplexing models, involving accretion of thrust horses from the downgoing Indian plate to the over-riding orogenic wedge. Most extrusion models predict exhumation and erosion of upper-amphibolite facies metamorphic rocks between the Main Central thrust (MCT) and a structurally higher normal fault, and therefore can be tested by determining if such high grade rocks occur between the MCT and the Indus-Yalu suture to the north. Prior qualitative studies suggest that such rocks are missing across the east Ladakh / Chamba and Kashmir regions of the western Himalaya. Here we present new quantitative and semi-quantitative results that document low peak metamorphic temperatures along a northeast-trending transect across the east Ladakh / Chamba Himalaya. We performed illite crystallinity (IC) and quartz grain boundary analyses to determine metamorphic and deformation temperatures, respectively. Calibrated IC values of structurally high samples range from 0.25 to 0.54, indicating temperatures of ~100 ˚C to ~300 ˚C. In structurally lower, muscovite +/- biotite-bearing meta-pelitic and meta-psammitic rocks, quartz grain boundaries show bulging recrystallization fabrics, corresponding to deformation temperatures of <~450 ˚C. Local exceptions occur along the southeast margin of the study region near a dome, where quartz sub-grain rotation fabrics indicate deformation temperatures between ~450 ˚C and ~550 ˚C. Our results, combined with similar IC values to the north from Girard et al. [2001, Clay Minerals v. 36, p. 237-247], demonstrate that a continuous strip of <~450 ˚C rocks extends from the MCT to the Indus-Yalu suture here. Therefore the predictions of extrusion models are not met in this portion of the Himalaya; we present alternative duplexing models.