Campaign-style U-Pb titanite petrochronology: along-strike variations in timing of metamorphism in the Himalayan Metamorphic Core

Catherine Mary Mottram, John M. Cottle, Andrew Kylander-Clark

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    Present-day along-strike heterogeneities within the Himalayan orogen are seen at many scales, from variations within the deep architecture of the lithospheric mantle, to differences in geomorphologic surface processes. Here, we present an internally consistent petrochronologic dataset from the Himalayan metamorphic core (HMC), in order to document and investigate the causes of along-strike variations in its Oligocene–Miocene tectonic history. Laser ablation split-stream analysis was used to date and characterise the geochemistry of titanite from 47 calc-silicate rocks across >2000 km along the Himalaya. This combined U-Pb–REE–Zr single mineral dataset circumvents uncertainties associated with interpretations based on data compilations from different studies, mineral systems and laboratories, and allows for direct along-strike comparisons in the timing of metamorphic processes. Titanite dates range from ∼30 Ma to 12 Ma, recording (re-)crystallization between 625°C and 815°C. Titanite T-t data overlap with previously published P-T-t paths from interleaved peltic rocks, demonstrating the usefulness of titanite petrochronology for recording the metamorphic history in lithologies not traditionally used for thermobarometry. Overall the data indicate a broad eastward-younging trend along the orogen. Disparities in the duration and timing of metamorphism within the HMC are best explained by along-strike variations in the position of ramps on the basal detachment controlling a two-stage process of preferential ductile accretion at depth followed by the formation of later upper-crust brittle duplexes. These processes, coupled with variable erosion, resulted in the asymmetric exhumation of a younger, thicker crystalline core in the eastern Himalaya.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalGeoscience Frontiers
    Early online date19 Oct 2018
    Publication statusEarly online - 19 Oct 2018


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