Thermochronologic constraints on the slip history of the South Tibetan detachment system in the Everest region, southern Tibet.

Schultz, Mary Hannah, Hodges, Kip V., Ehlers, Todd A., van Soest, Matthijs and Wartho, Jo-Anne (2017) Thermochronologic constraints on the slip history of the South Tibetan detachment system in the Everest region, southern Tibet. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 459 . pp. 105-117. DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2016.11.022.

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Supplementary data:

Abstract

Highlights

• The South Tibetan detachment system played a major role in Himalayan evolution.
• Near Mt Everest, the detachment system accommodated large displacements under both brittle and ductile conditions.
• Rapid cooling of footwall rocks reflected tectonic denudation by brittle slip from ca. 15.6 to at least 13.0 Ma.
• Thermal–kinematic modeling suggests displacement on the detachment to be at least 61 km.

Abstract

North-dipping, low-angle normal faults of the South Tibetan detachment system (STDS) are tectonically important features of the Himalayan–Tibetan orogenic system. The STDS is best exposed in the N–S-trending Rongbuk Valley in southern Tibet, where the primary strand of the system – the Qomolangma detachment – can be traced down dip from the summit of Everest for a distance of over 30 km. The metamorphic discontinuity across this detachment implies a large net displacement, with previous studies suggesting >200 km of slip. Here we refine those estimates through thermal–kinematic modeling of new (U–Th)/He and 40Ar/39Ar data from deformed footwall leucogranites. While previous studies focused on the early ductile history of deformation along the detachment, our data provide new insights regarding the brittle–ductile to brittle slip history. Thermal modeling results generated with the program QTQt indicate rapid, monotonic cooling from muscovite 40Ar/39Ar closure (ca. 15.4–14.4 Ma at ca. 490 °C) to zircon (U–Th)/He closure (ca. 14.3–11.0 Ma at ca. 200 °C), followed by slower cooling to apatite (U–Th)/He closure at ca. 9–8 Ma (at ca. 70 °C). Although previous work has suggested that ductile slip on the detachment lasted only until ca. 15.6 Ma, thermal–kinematic modeling of our new data suggests that rapid (ca. 3–4 km/Ma) tectonic exhumation by brittle–ductile to brittle fault slip continued to at least ca. 13.0 Ma. Much lower modeled exhumation rates (≤0.5 km/Ma) after ca. 13 Ma are interpreted to reflect erosional denudation rather than tectonic exhumation. Projection of fault-related exhumation rates backward through time suggests total slip of ca. 61 to 289 km on the Qomolangma detachment, with slightly more than a third of that slip occurring under brittle–ductile to brittle conditions.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: detachment, low-temperature thermochronology, exhumation, thermal–kinematic modeling, Tibet
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-MUHS Magmatic and Hydrothermal Systems
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.epsl.2016.11.022
ISSN: 0012-821X
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2016 13:06
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2019 15:06
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/35201

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