Abstract

The Gasherbrum Peaks, in the Himalaya of Pakistan, reach elevations of >8000 m. The relief between the peaks and the adjacent valley (Baltoro Glacier) is in excess of 3000 m. Eight samples of the Early Cretaceous Gasherbrum Diorite at elevations between 4880 and 7165 m on Gasherbrum IV were collected for fission-track dating. Zircon fission-track ages from the Gasherbrum Diorite vary from Early Cretaceous to middle Tertiary in age. There is no consistent pattern between age and elevation. The Cretaceous ages indicate that these rocks were never deeply buried, i.e., heated to temperatures in excess of 175°C, to reset the zircons during Cenozoic time. These results also indicate that the uplift of this part of the Himalaya has been either very rapid and recent, or very slow since Early Cretaceous time. This latter possibility is not consistent with the high relief at Gasherbrum and what is known about regional tectonics. Gasherbrum IV zircons, currently at ∼4880 m, have never been at depths greater than 6 km, and less than 3 km of material has been removed from the top of the range by erosion since the Early Cretaceous. Rapid uplift has occurred very recently, and erosion rates have not been able to keep pace with this uplift.

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