Implications of an enigmatic Late Permian to Early Triassic detrital zircon population in Eocene sediments of Nagaland

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Jonathan C Aitchison, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia
Age spectra from some recent detrital zircon investigations of younger sedimentary units in the Tethyan Himalayan Series in eastern parts of the Himalayan orogenic system have indicated the existence an enigmatic Late Permian to Early Triassic magmatic source. Data from mature passive margin sedimentary rocks of the Tethyan Himalayan Series have revealed this hitherto unreported zircon population in samples from both east of Xigaze and south of Zedong in southern Tibet. Such zircons might not have been detected before simply because most detrital zircon studies involving Himalayan rocks examined strata in which grains of this age would not have been present. Alternatively, it may be that this population is restricted to eastern outcrops of the Tethyan Himalayan Series.

Several models have been proposed in order to explain this zircon population with the most recent work favouring a rift-fill interpretation with the zircons being sourced from the Lhasa terrane. However, the various models proposed are not fully supported by other geological constraints and/or involve paleogeographies that present intractable source to sink gradient issues.

Our investigations of sedimentary rocks in Nagaland including Eocene sediments of both the Disang and Phokphur formations reveal the presence of a similar Late Permian to Early Triassic detrital zircon population. Notably, unlike the Lhasa terrane detrital sediments of nearby Eurasian margin units in this region similarly aged sedimentary rocks in the Indo-Burman range do not contain this population. Other zircon populations in the Nagaland samples are consistent with pre-Gondwana break-up (i.e. pre Cretaceous) paleogeography and suggest derivation from western Australia. Age-correlative zircon populations have been reported recently from detrital zircon investigations of sediments on the North West Shelf of Western Australia and a similar source is inferred for the Nagaland zircons.