Reconstructing the growth process of the Qiangtang terrane in space and time is crucial for understanding the geological evolution of Central Tibet. However, its growth process and dynamic mechanism remain unclear. Here, we present new fission track data obtained along a N-S transect near the Puruo Kangri Mountain in the central zone of the Northern Qiangtang terrane. The completely reset apatite fission track ages of detrital samples range from 65.1 to 89.6 Ma, which show a northward younging trend. The thermal history modeling results indicate that this region underwent northward-propagating exhumation during the Late Cretaceous (ca. 92–65 Ma). Our data, combined with previously reported low-temperature thermochronology data for the Qiangtang terrane, suggest that the Qiangtang terrane experienced three main stages of cooling: ca. 120–65, ca. 55–35, and <25–0 Ma. The first stage (ca. 120–65 Ma) displays an outward-propagating cooling pattern from the Central Qiangtang terrane, which was related to the crustal shortening and thickening driven by the Lhasa-Qiangtang collision. The low exhumation rate, flat lavas, and paleoaltimetry studies imply that the central and southern zones of the Northern Qiangtang terrane and Central Qiangtang terrane may form plateau landscape by 65–55 Ma. The second stage (ca. 55–35 Ma) of cooling is mainly documented in the Southern Qiangtang terrane, and the northern zone of the Northern Qiangtang terrane. This cooling event was caused by the crustal deformation and shortening driven by intracontinental subduction related to ongoing convergence of the Indian and Asian plates. Subsequently, both the transition to low erosion rates (<0.05 mm/yr) and paleoaltimetry data indicate that the Qiangtang terrane became a primitive plateau by ca. 35 Ma. The final stage (<25–0 Ma) of cooling was linked to the E-W extension in the Qiangtang terrane.

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