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Abstract

Reconstruction of the protolith lithostratigraphy of amphibolite-facies metasedimentary rocks of the Greater Himalayan Series (GHS) in Nepal documents a single, long-lived passive-margin succession that was deposited along the northern margin of the Indian Craton. In the Langtang area, Paleoproterozoic gneisses are unconformably overlain by a succession of upper Neoproterozoic–Ordovician fluvio-deltaic quartzite, basinal pelite and psammitic beds that grade upsection into micaceous semipelite and pelite. U–Pb zircon geochronology yields maximum depositional ages between c. 815 and 460 Ma for the GHS in Langtang. Regional variations in the composition and thickness of the GHS along the length of the Himalaya are attributed to siliciclastic depocentres centred on Zanskar in northern India, Langtang and Everest in central to western Nepal, which contrast with coeval marine carbonate shelf deposition in the Annapurna region. The protolith lithostratigraphy documented for Langtang provides a coherent framework for interpreting subsequent Cenozoic Himalayan deformation, specifically the homogeneously distributed layer-normal shortening (i.e. flattening) and layer-parallel stretching (i.e. transport-parallel stretching) that characterizes the GHS. Within the context of a single protracted northern Indian marginal sedimentary succession, the distinction between the Lesser, Greater and Tethyan Himalaya is structural rather than lithostratigraphic in origin.

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