To reconstruct the early tectonic history of the Himalayan orogen before final India-Asia collision, we carried out geochemical and geochronological studies on the Early Cretaceous Aulis Trachyte of the Lesser Himalaya. The trace-element geochemistry of the trachytic lava flows suggests formation in a rift setting, and zircon U-Pb ages indicate that volcanism occurred in Early Cretaceous time. The felsic volcanics show enrichment of more incompatible elements and rare earth elements, a pattern that is identical to the trachyte from the East African Rift (Kenya rift), with conspicuous negative anomalies of Nb, P, and Ti. Although much of the zircon age data are discordant, they strongly suggest an Early Cretaceous eruption age, which is in agreement with the fossil age of intravolcanic siltstones. The Aulis Trachyte provides the first corroboration of Cretaceous rifting in the Lesser Himalaya as suggested by paleomagnetic data associated with the concept that the northern margin of India separated as a microcontinent and drifted north in the Neo-Tethys before terminal collision of India with Asia.

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