Recent studies have indicated that an Andean-type orogen (Lhasaplano) developed on the Lhasa block in the Cretaceous during northward subduction of Neo-Tethyan oceanic lithosphere. When and how uplift of the Lhasaplano began, however, has remained controversial. This article integrates stratigraphic, sedimentological, tectonic, and provenance data from the latest marine to nonmarine strata in the Linzhou Basin to pinpoint the early topographic growth in southern Tibet. The Takena Formation mainly consists of lagoonal carbonates and mudstones yielding foraminiferal assemblages of Early Aptian age (ca. 123−119.5 Ma). The conformably overlying lower member of the Shexing Formation, mainly deposited in fluvial environments, was fed by volcanic and sedimentary rock fragments from the north Lhasa terrane. Clasts of the Gangdese arc to the south firstly appeared in the middle member and became dominant in the upper member of the Shexing Formation. By contrast, coarse grained, braided river facies occur in the uppermost part of the Shexing Formation, where detritus was mostly recycled from Paleozoic strata of north Lhasa, with minor volcaniclastic contribution from the Gangdese arc. Basin analysis indicates accelerating subsidence and sedimentation rates during deposition of Takena to middle Shexing strata (ca. 125−108 Ma), followed by steady subsidence during deposition of upper Shexing strata (ca. 108−96 Ma). Given this regional tectonic and sedimentary evidence, such an evolution is interpreted to reflect tectonic extension followed by thermal subsidence. Basin inversion and regional compression initiated during deposition of the uppermost Shexing strata (ca. 96 Ma), as indicated by active thrust faults and widespread accumulation of syntectonic conglomerates in the western part of the Lhasa block. This event marked the beginning of the Andean-type orogeny in southern Tibet. Such a paleotectonic evolution, from extension to tectonic inversion, is also documented in the Andes mountain range. It may be typical of the early stage growth of Andean-type active continental margins.

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