Zircon is a common mineral in nature that survives varied pressure and temperature conditions in the subduction process. It has excellent ability to reveal progressive metamorphic history and, hence, is useful in reconstructing the subduction tectonics in collisional orogenic belts. In the Tso Morari Gneiss of the Indus Suture Zone, Himalaya, eclogite boudins have registered the imprint of subduction-related ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) metamorphism; this imprint is, however, missing in the host gneisses. To search for the missing link, zircons of the gneisses were studied. The zircon overgrowth and the numerous mineral inclusions indicate the metamorphic responses of the gneisses. The Raman spectra of minerals show the cores of the zircon consist of apatite and quartz and the surrounding overgrowth preserves quartz–coesite, c-polymorphs and other metamorphic minerals. The distribution pattern of these minerals in the zircons is consistent with the Th/U ratios ranging from 0.30 to 0.01, recognizing the inner magmatic and outer metamorphic domains. The U–Pb ages from the inner magmatic (at c. 500 Ma) and from the outer metamorphic growth (at c. 45–42 Ma) suggest the former is the protolith age and the latter the metamorphic age of the gneisses. The tectonic interpretation reveals the subduction of Indian felsic crust to UHP depth (>100 km) at c. 45 Ma.

Supplementary material: Raman spectra of C-inclusions in the zircon of Tso Morari Gneiss are available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.7168228

Thematic collection: This article is part of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic tectonics, landscape and climate change collection available at: https://www.lyellcollection.org/topic/collections/mesozoic-and-cenozoic-tectonics-landscape-and-climate-change

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