Inverted temperature sequences: role of deformation partitioning
Abstract:The inverted metamorphism associated with the Main Central thrust zone in the Himalaya has been historically attributed to a number of tectonic processes. Here we show that there is actually a composite peak and deformation temperature sequence that formed in succession via different tectonic processes. The deformation partitioning seems to the have played a key role, and the magnitude of each process has varied along strike of the orogen.
To explain the formation of the inverted metamorphic sequence across the Lesser Himalayan Sequence (LHS) in eastern Bhutan, we used Raman spectroscopy of carbonaceous material (RSCM) to determine the peak metamorphic temperatures and Ti-in-quartz thermobarometry to determine the deformation temperatures combined with thermochronology including published apatite and zircon U-Th/He and fission-track data and new 40Ar/39Ar dating of muscovite. The dataset was inverted using 3D-thermal-kinematic modeling to constrain the ranges of geological parameters such as fault geometry and slip rates, location and rates of localized basal accretion, and thermal properties of the crust.
RSCM results indicate that there are two peak temperature sequences separated by a major thrust within the LHS. The internal temperature sequence shows an inverted peak temperature gradient of 12 °C/km; in the external (southern) sequence, the peak temperatures are constant across the structural sequence. Thermo-kinematic modeling suggest that the thermochronologic and thermobarometric data are compatible with a two-stage scenario: an Early-Middle Miocene phase of fast overthrusting of a hot hanging wall over a downgoing footwall and inversion of the synkinematic isotherms, followed by the formation of the external duplex developed by dominant underthrusting and basal accretion. To reconcile our observations with the experimental data, we suggest that pervasive ductile deformation within the upper LHS and along the Main Central thrust zone at its top stopped at ~11 Ma at which time the deformation shifted and focused within the external duplex and the Main Boundary Thrust.