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Structure and detrital zircon geochronology of the Domar fold-thrust belt: Evidence of pre-Cenozoic crustal thickening of the western Tibetan Plateau

By
Nickolas S. Raterman
Nickolas S. Raterman
Department of Geology, University of California, One Shields Ave, Davis, California 95616, USA
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Alexander C. Robinson
Alexander C. Robinson
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Houston, Houston, Texas 77204-5007, USA
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Eric S. Cowgill
Eric S. Cowgill
Department of Geology, University of California, One Shields Ave, Davis, California 95616, USA
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Published:
August 01, 2014

Studies of the pre-Cenozoic geologic history of the Tibetan Plateau provide important constraints on the timing and spatial variability of crustal thickening and resulting topographic uplift. Here we present new 1:100,000-scale structural mapping and U-Pb detrital zircon analyses from the Domar fold-thrust belt in the western Qiangtang terrane to constrain the history of crustal thickening in this portion of the Tibetan Plateau. We find that (1) Paleozoic strata of the Domar area were shortened prior to deposition of Permian units; (2) the youngest strata in the area are Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous in age, rather than middle Cretaceous or Cenozoic, as previously interpreted; and (3) the youngest strata record tectonism synchronous with south-directed thrusting in the Domar fold-thrust belt, with no evidence of significant shortening during the Cenozoic India-Asia collision. Together, our results suggest that the majority of the shortening of this region occurred during the middle Mesozoic. In particular, Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous formation of the Domar fold-thrust belt likely resulted from underthrusting of the northern Lhasa terrane beneath the southern margin of the Qiangtang terrane during the middle Mesozoic Lhasa-Qiangtang collision along the Bangong-Nujiang suture. These findings add to a growing body of geologic evidence indicating that the Tibetan Plateau had already undergone significant shortening, crustal thickening, and likely rock uplift prior to the India-Asia collision.

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GSA Special Papers

Toward an Improved Understanding of Uplift Mechanisms and the Elevation History of the Tibetan Plateau

Junsheng Nie
Junsheng Nie
MOE Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental Systems, Collaborative Innovation Centre for Arid Environments and Climate Change, Lanzhou University, 222 South Tianshui Road, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China
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Brian K. Horton
Brian K. Horton
Institute for Geophysics and Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712, USA
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Gregory D. Hoke
Gregory D. Hoke
Department of Earth Sciences, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244, USA
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Geological Society of America
Volume
507
ISBN print:
9780813725079
Publication date:
August 01, 2014

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