It is widely believed that the Tibetan plateau is a late Cenozoic feature produced by the Indo-Asian collision. However, because Tibet was the locus of continental accretion and subduction throughout the Mesozoic, crustal thickening during that time may also have contributed to growth of the plateau. This portion of the geologic history was investigated in a traverse through the central Lhasa block, southern Tibet. Together with earlier studies, our mapping and geochronological results show that the Lhasa block underwent little north-south shortening during the Cenozoic. Rather, our mapping shows that ∼60% crustal shortening, perhaps due to the collision between the Lhasa and Qiangtang blocks, occurred during the Early Cretaceous. This observation implies that a significant portion of southern Tibet was raised to perhaps 3–4 km elevation prior to the Indo-Asian collision.

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