Our understanding of the geologic evolution of the Himalaya remains incomplete, particularly in regard to structural and geochronologic details of the Proterozoic-Paleozoic Lesser Himalayan Sequence. We conducted an integrated field mapping, geochronological study, and geochemical analysis of the Lesser Himalayan Sequence strata in the Kumaun and Garwhal Himalaya of NW India (78°00′–80°30′E). Structural observations reveal a systematic change in deformation styles from lower to higher structural levels in the Main Central Thrust footwall. In the south, and at lower structural levels, the Main Central Thrust foot-wall is characterized by parallel folding and sparse development of axial cleavage. Quartz microstructures indicate that deformation occurred at temperatures below 350 °C. In contrast, in the north and at higher structural levels close to the Main Central Thrust, deformation is characterized by replacement of original bedding, the development of penetrative cleavage, and schistosity locally. Folds are tight, in places isoclinal and overturned. The corresponding quartz microstructures indicate that deformation occurred above 350 °C. Dating of detrital zircons from Lesser Himalayan Sequence metasedimentary units, and igneous zircons from schistose gneisses throughout the Lesser Himalayan Sequence allow refinements to the stratigraphic framework. First, unlike what has been observed in western Nepal immediately west of our study area, U-Pb zircon dating suggests the absence of Paleoproterozoic strata in the Ramgarh Thrust hanging wall. This suggests that the thrust cuts upsection laterally along strike. Second, U-Pb detrital zircon dating suggests that metasedimentary strata in the Ramgarh Thrust hanging wall are correlative with basal units of the Outer Lesser Himalayan Sequence, removing the necessity that the Ramgarh Thrust hanging wall was allochthonous with respect to its footwall Lesser Himalayan Sequence units. Schistose gneisses with U-Pb ages of ca. 1850 Ma are older than Lesser Himalayan Sequence units in the area, suggesting that they are Lesser Himalayan Sequence basement. We conclude that the Ramgarh Thrust is an out-of-sequence thrust postdating a folding event in its footwall. The earlier proposal that Neoproterozoic-Cambrian Lesser Himalayan Sequence strata are the southern extension of the Tethyan Himalayan Sequence requires that the Tons Thrust, which separates the distal and proximal facies of the Lesser Himalayan Sequence, be a major, south-directed structure with a slip magnitude of >50–100 km.

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