Episodic gravitational collapse and migration of the mountain chain during orogenic roll-on in the Himalayas

Bell, T.H., and Sapkota, J. (2012) Episodic gravitational collapse and migration of the mountain chain during orogenic roll-on in the Himalayas. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 30 (7). pp. 651-666.

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An ~W–E belt of maximum bulk horizontal shortening (the orogen core) moved North relative to the overlying crust to form the Himalayan Syntaxes due to roll-on of this portion of the Indian plate. This displacement occurred below a lengthy succession of gently dipping decollements that formed episodically at a depth of ~30 km along the orogen core due to numerous periods of gravitational collapse and spreading of the overlying ductile crust. Successively developed basal decollements were deformed when continued bulk horizontal shortening of the orogen core below reasserted dominance over the effects of gravitational collapse above causing refolding about steeply dipping axial planes. This resulted in northwards migration of the orogen core above depths of ~30 km causing rocks metamorphosing at depths of ~22 km on the north side of the orogen core to be moved to its south side with no change in depth as roll-on progressed. Garnet porphyroblasts record this lengthy history of lateral migration across the orogen within their inclusion trails. The ~6.4 kbar average pressures accompanying it were obtained from the Mn, Fe and Ca contents of successive garnet cores. Garnet grew at depths of ~22 km until movement towards the surface initiated on successively developed decollements that accommodated the volume constraints of gravitational collapse and spreading on both sides of the orogen. The speed of extrusional displacement increased the further the rocks migrated from the orogen core developing mylonitic schists around the porphyroblasts. This truncated inclusion trails against all matrix foliations as the porphyroblasts were carried towards the surface. Indeed, these rocks were multiply deformed during at least four distinct periods of deformation after mylonitization began and prior to exposure above the Main Central Thrust (MCT). Three or more sub-vertical and sub-horizontal foliations were formed during each of the five changes in FIA trend (foliation inflection/intersection axes in porphyroblasts) preserved in these rocks. The inclusion trail asymmetries and P-T of garnet core growth accompanying each FIA reveal that the first four changes in FIA trend, which define periods of tectonism about one direction of horizontal bulk shortening (relative plate motion), occurred on the north side of the orogen core. The fifth occurred on the south side of the orogen core and the switch in shear sense on gently dipping foliation planes that resulted from this shift to the south eventually led to the development of the MCT. When magnetic anomaly 22 that formed in the Southern Indian Ocean Ridge is taken into account, these five changes in FIA trend correlate markedly with changes in the motion of India relative to a constant Eurasia from 50 to c. 25 Ma. They reveal that Eurasia moved NNW during FIAs 1, 3 and 4 and SSE during FIA 5 when the shear sense on gently dipping foliations switched to top to the S. They suggest collision of India with Eurasia took place at 50 Ma, immediately prior to the development of FIA 1.

Item ID: 23856
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: India under Tibet; motion of Eurasia; pressure history from core isopleths; relative plate motion from FIAs; shear sense history; timing India's collision; tracking rocks through orogens
ISSN: 1525-1314
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2012 01:39
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040312 Structural Geology @ 50%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040313 Tectonics @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 100%
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