Abstract

A 500-km-long belt of metamorphic exposures in the Qiangtang block provides an opportunity to study the internal structure of northern Tibetan crust. Metamorphic rocks exposed at two widely separated areas along this belt consist of blueschist-bearing melange and are bounded by Late Triassic–Early Jurassic, domal, low-angle normal faults. We propose that this melange was underplated to the Qiangtang block and was subsequently exhumed by detachment faulting; both the underplating and the exhumation occurred during early Mesozoic southward subduction of oceanic lithosphere along the Jinsha suture. This model predicts that the deeper crust of much of northern Tibet consists of accretionary melange, in contrast to the continental crystalline crust of southern Tibet, and may account for north-south variations of Cenozoic tectonism in Tibet.

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