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Abstract

The left-lateral strike-slip Tirich Mir Fault, Chitral, NW Pakistan, is associated with a belt of peridotites, metagabbros and gneisses named the Tirich Boundary Zone (TBZ), separating the Late Palaeozoic-Mesozoic units of the East Hindu Kush from the Palaeozoic successions of the Karakoram block. These rocks were metamorphosed up to upper amphibolite facies conditions, followed by a greenschist facies overprinting, and then thrust on to very low grade metasediments; they were finally intruded at shallow levels by the mid-Cretaceous Tirich Mir pluton. Ultramafic rocks along the fault zone include well-preserved spinel lherzolites and harzburgites (Tirich Gol, Barum valley, Arkari Gol), whereas schistose serpentinites occur in the Rich Gol. Whole-rock analyses and mineral chemistry of olivine, clinopyroxene, orthopyroxene and spinel from these peridotites show a depleted signature. Microstructural and petrological features suggest a mantle origin for these ultramafic bodies, which equilibrated at temperatures ranging from 1000–1100 °C. Peridotites are faulted against partially metamorphosed igneous bodies including hornblende-gabbros, hornblende cumulates and quartz-diorites. Metamorphic rocks of the TBZ, which lay south of the ultramafic-mafic complex, include quartzites, amphibolites, garnet-sillimanite (± kyanite ± K-feldspar)-biotite gneisses and mica schists, locally displaying migmatitic textures.

A sub-continental character of the peridotites indicated by low temperatures of equilibration and by the presence of a deep crustal sequence. These characters along with the absence of an ophiolitic sequence may suggest that the TBZ represents a fragmented crust-mantle boundary developed along a zone of attenuated continental crust. The TBZ is interpreted as a sheared lithospheric section of a Jurassic-Early Cretaceous orogenic complex, formed as a consequence of the accretion of the Karakoram terrane to the southern side of the Pamir belts, which were progressively accreted to the Asian margin.

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