A new data compilation shows that in intermediate to felsic rocks, zircon Eu/Eu* [chondrite normalized Eu/√(Sm×Gd)] correlates with whole rock La/Yb, which has been be used to infer crustal thickness. The resultant positive correlation between zircon Eu/Eu* and crustal thickness can be explained by two processes favored during high-pressure differentiation: (1) supression of plagioclase, and (2) endogenic oxidation of Eu2+ due to garnet fractionation. Here we calibrate a crustal thickness proxy based on Eu anomalies in zircons. The Eu/Eu*-in-zircon proxy makes it possible to reconstruct crustal thickness evolution in magmatic arcs and orogens using detrital zircons. To evaluate this new proxy, we analyzed detrital zircons separated from modern river sands in the Gangdese belt, southern Tibet. Our results reveal two episodes of crustal thickening (to 60–70 km) since the Cretaceous. The first thickening event occurred at 90–70 Ma, and the second at 50–30 Ma following Eurasia-India collision. These findings are temporally consistent with contractional deformation of sedimentary strata in southern Tibet.

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