New Constraints on the Geometry and Kinematics of Active Faults in the Hinterland of the Northwest Himalaya

Monday, 15 December 2014: 9:30 AM
Kristin D Morell1, Mike Sandiford2, Chittenipattu C P Rajendran3, David Fink4 and Barry Paul Kohn2, (1)University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada, (2)University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia, (3)Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, India, (4)Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization, Kirrawee, Australia
The geometry and kinematics of the active, and potentially seismogenic, fault structures within the hinterland of the Himalaya have proven challenging to constrain in the past, primarily because active faults in this region tend to be buried beneath the subsurface and active seismicity often does not align with surficially mapped fault traces. Here we present a series of complementary datasets, including results from low temperature thermochronology, basin-wide erosion rates from 10Be concentrations, and topographic and longitudinal profile analyses, that place constraints on the spatial distribution of fault-related rock uplift and erosion across a ~400-km long region of the lower and high Himalaya of northwest India. Results from our analyses reveal that hillslope morphology and channel steepness are relatively invariant parallel to strike but vary significantly across strike, with the most prominent and abrupt variations occurring at the physiographic transition between the lower and high Himalaya (PT2), near the axial trace of the ramp-flat transition in the Main Himalayan Thrust (MHT). The cross-strike changes in geomorphology observed across the PT2 correlate with an order of magnitude northward increase in basin-wide erosion rates (~0.06-0.8 mm/a) and a corresponding decrease in apatite (~5-2 Ma) and zircon (U-Th)/He (~10-2 Ma) cooling ages. Combined with published geophysical and seismicity data, we interpret these results to reflect spatial variations in rock uplift and exhumation induced by a segment of the MHT ramp-flat system that is at least ~400 km long and ~125 km wide. The relatively young (U-Th)/He ages (<10 Ma) greater than 20 km south of the MHT ramp-flat transition preliminarily suggest that the kinematics of this system are best explained by a model which incorporates an accreting duplex on the MHT ramp but additional forthcoming analyses, including thermal modeling, will confirm if this hypothesis is robust.