Abstract

Field, structural, kinematic, and deformation temperature analyses were conducted on rocks from the Lhagoi Kangri gneiss dome (southern Tibet) in order to establish the geologic history of the dome, identify major phases of deformation within the dome, and to relate these phases of deformation to the tectonic evolution of the Himalayan middle crust. The Lhagoi Kangri dome, one of a series of gneiss-cored domes in southern Tibet, records stratigraphy and structural features similar to previously studied north Himalayan gneiss domes. Field mapping reveals a sequence of rocks that comprise a cover of unmetamorphosed to amphibolite-grade siliciclastic and minor carbonate rocks overlying a core predominantly composed of foliated and lineated orthogneiss intruded by relatively undeformed granite, which also intrudes the cover rocks both concordantly and discordantly. Field observations and microstructural analyses suggest that the contact between the core and cover rocks was originally a nonconformity, but we do not rule out the possibility of subsequent slip along the surface, as has been reported for correlative structures in other domes. Lhagoi Kangri rocks were pervasively deformed during at least two major tectonic phases. The earliest deformation event (D1) resulted in shortening and thickening of crust, the record of which is largely eliminated, particularly in lower structural levels, by transposition and recrystallization during the second phase of deformation (D2). Ductile deformation during D2 is characterized at higher structural levels by crenulation cleavage that tightens with depth, while at lower structural levels D2 manifests as a distributed shear zone that records some evidence of both plane strain and coaxial flattening, possibly indicating overall heterogeneous general shear. The shear zone is ∼3 km thick and contains rocks with mostly symmetrical top-to-north and top-to-south shear sense indicators with a dominant top-to-north component at lower structural levels. Microstructural analyses and quartz c-axis fabrics indicate a range of D2 shear zone temperatures from 200 to 300 °C at the upper boundary to ≥630 °C at the lowest structural levels sampled with minimal evidence of lower temperature overprinting. The interpreted temperatures define a wide range in thermal field gradients (18–90 °C/km) that suggest that temperature indicators were locked in at relatively late stages of D2. The structural framework and kinematic history of the Lhagoi Kangri dome are similar to previously studied north Himalayan gneiss domes as well as to transects through the South Tibetan detachment system, which supports previous interpretations of structural continuity between the north Himalayan gneiss domes and other middle crustal exposures in the Himalaya. The Lhagoi Kangri distributed shear zone, in particular, may represent a deeper ductile manifestation of the South Tibetan detachment system.

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