The location and magnitude of Himalayan tectonic activity has been debated for decades, and several aspects remain unknown. For instance, the spatial distribution of crustal shortening that ultimately sustains Himalayan topography and the activity of major fault zones remain unknown at Ma timescales. In this study, we address the spatial deformation pattern in the data-scarce western Himalaya. We calculated catchment averaged, normalized river-steepness indices of non-glaciated drainage basins with tributary catchment areas between 5 and 200 km2 (n = 2138). We analyzed the spatial distribution of the relative change of river steepness both along and across strike to gain information about the regional distribution of differential uplift pattern and relate this to the activity of distinctive fault segments. For our study area, we observe a positive correlation of averaged ksn values with long-term exhumation rates derived from previously published thermochronologic datasets combined with thermal modeling as well as with millennial timescale denudation rates based on cosmogenic nuclide dating. Our results indicate three tectono-geomorphic segments with distinctive landscape morphology, structural architecture, and fault geometry along the western Himalaya: Garhwal-Sutlej, Chamba, and Kashmir Himalaya (from east to west). Moreover, our data recognize distinctive fault segments showing varying thrust activity along strike of the Main Frontal Thrust, the Main Boundary Thrust, and in the vicinity of the steep topographic transition between the Lesser and Greater Himalaya. In this region, we relate out-of-sequence deformation along major basement thrust ramps, such as the Munsiari Thrust with deformation along a mid-crustal ramp along the basal décollement. We suggest that during the Quaternary, all major fault zones in the Western Himalaya experienced out-of-sequence faulting and have accommodated some portion of crustal shortening.
Fault activity, tectonic segmentation, and deformation pattern of the western Himalaya on Ma timescales inferred from landscape morphology
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Markus Nennewitz, Rasmus C. Thiede, Bodo Bookhagen; Fault activity, tectonic segmentation, and deformation pattern of the western Himalaya on Ma timescales inferred from landscape morphology. Lithosphere doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/L681.1
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