We present field and analytical results from the Tashkurgan and Waqia valleys in the southeastern Pamir that shed new light on the tectonic evolution and terrane architecture of the region. Field mapping of metasedimentary and igneous units along the Tashkurgan and Waqia valleys in the Southeast Pamir, integrated with metamorphic petrology, garnet-biotite thermometry, and zircon U/Pb isotopic analysis, help identify major structures and terrane boundaries in the region, as well as compare structural units across the Miocene Muztaghata gneiss dome. South of the Muztaghata dome, the gently northwest-plunging synformal Torbashi thrust klippe juxtaposes amphibolite facies Triassic Karakul-Mazar terrane schist and gneiss structurally above (1) greenschist facies Triassic Karakul-Mazar terrane metasedimentary rock in the north, and (2) lower-amphibolite facies schist in the south that are interpreted to be Gondwanan-derived crust (Central or South Pamir terrane). Farther south, the Rouluke thrust fault imbricates the Gondwanan crust, placing early Paleozoic schists over Permian marble and slate. Exposure of the Torbashi thrust sheet terminates in the southeast, and with it the surface exposure of the Triassic Karakul-Mazar terrane, leaving the Paleozoic Kunlun terrane juxtaposed directly against Gondwanan terrane crust. Based on lithologic and isotopic similarities of units north and south of the Muztaghata gneiss dome, we document the existence of a regionally extensive thrust nappe that stretched across the northern and eastern Pamir, prior to being cut by Miocene exhumation of the Muztaghata dome. The thrust nappe links the Torbashi thrust in the southeast Pamir with the Tanymas thrust in the northern Pamir, and documents regionally extensive exposure of lithologically continuous units across the northeast Pamir. While timing of emplacement of the Torbashi thrust klippe and displacement on the Rouluke fault to the south is not well constrained, we interpret shortening to be Cretaceous in age based on previously published cooling ages. However, a component of Cenozoic shortening cannot be ruled out.
A key observation from our mapping results is that the surface exposures of the Karakul–Mazar–Songpan Ganzi terrane are not continuous between western Tibet and the Pamir, which indicates tectonic and/or erosional removal, likely sometime in the Mesozoic. Furthermore, our documentation of the Jinsha suture in the southeast Pamir on the eastern side of the Karakoram fault shows deflections of terranes across the Himalayan-Tibetan orogen were not primarily accommodated along discrete, large displacement faults (>400 km) faults. Instead, oroclinal bending of the northern Pamir, and dextral shear along the Pamir margins, may be largely responsible for the northward deflection of terranes.