We present a kinematic model for the Himalayan thrust belt that satisfies structural and metamorphic data and explains recently reported late Miocene–Pliocene geochronologic and thermochronologic ages from rocks in the Main Central thrust zone in central Nepal. At its current exposure level, the Main Central thrust juxtaposes a hanging-wall flat in Greater Himalayan rocks with a footwall flat in Lesser Himalayan rocks of the Ramgarh thrust sheet, which is the roof thrust of a large Lesser Himalayan duplex. Sequential emplacement of the Main Central (early Miocene) and Ramgarh (middle Miocene) thrust sheets was followed by insertion of thrust sheets within the Lesser Himalayan duplex and folding of the Main Central and Ramgarh thrusts during late Miocene–Pliocene time. Thorium-lead (Th-Pb) ages of monazite inclusions in garnets from central Nepal record the timing of coeval, progressive metamorphism of Lesser Himalayan rocks in the footwall of the Main Central thrust. Although this model does not rule out minor, late-stage reactivation of the Main Central thrust, major late Miocene reactivation is not required.

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