Microstructural analysis of the Greater Himalayan Sequence, Annapurna-Dhaulagiri Himalaya, central Nepal: Channel Flow and Orogen-parallel deformation.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Andrew J Parsons1, Richard J Phillips1, Geoffrey E Lloyd1, Micheal P Searle2 and Richard Derek Law3, (1)School of Earth & Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom, (2)Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, (3)Department of Geosciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Tech, Blacksburg, VA, United States
Knowledge of deformation processes that occur in the lithosphere during orogenesis can be gained from microstructural analysis of exhumed terranes and shear zones. Here, we use Crystallographic Preferred Orientation (CPO) and Anisotropy of Magnetic Susceptibility (AMS) data to reveal the kinematic evolution of the metamorphic core of the Himalayan orogen, the Greater Himalayan Sequence (GHS).

The Himalayan orogen is commonly explained with models of channel flow, which describe the GHS as a partially molten, rheologically weak mid crustal channel. Extrusion of the channel was facilitated by coeval reverse- and normal-sense shear zones, at the lower and upper channel margins respectively. Whilst many thermobarometric studies support the occurrence of channel flow, the spatial and temporal distribution of strain within the GHS is one aspect of the model that is yet to be fully resolved. We present a quantified strain proxy profile for the GHS in the Annapurna–Dhaulagiri region of central Nepal and compare our results with the kinematic predictions of the channel flow model.

Samples were collected along a NS transect through the Kali Gandaki valley of central Nepal for CPO and AMS analysis. Variations in CPO strength are used as a proxy for relative strain magnitude, whilst AMS data provide a proxy for strain ellipsoid shape. Combining this information with field and microstructural observations and thermobarometric constraints reveals the kinematic evolution of the GHS in this region.

Low volumes of leucogranite and sillimanite bearing rocks and evidence of reverse-sense overprinting normal-sense shearing at the top of the GHS suggest that channel flow was not as intense as model predictions. Additionally, observed EW mineral lineations and oblate strain ellipsoid proxies in the Upper GHS, indicative of three dimensional flattening and orogen parallel stretching, cannot be explained by current channel flow models.

Whilst the results do not refute the occurrence of channel flow in the Annapurna-Dhaulagiri Himalaya, orogen parallel deformaiton may also play an important role during the evolution of the GHS. Such processes should be fully investigated to understand the role of orogen parallel deformation in the development of the Himalaya to further our knowledge of lithospheric deformation during orogenesis.