ABSTRACT

The stratigraphic record of Cenozoic uplift and denudation of the Himalayas is distributed across its peripheral foreland basins, as well as in the sediments of the Ganges–Brahmaputra Delta (GBD) and the Bengal–Nicobar Fan (BNF). Recent interrogation of Miocene–Quaternary sediments of the GBD and BNF advance our knowledge of Himalayan sediment dispersal and its relationship to regional tectonics and climate, but these studies are limited to IODP boreholes from the BNF (IODP 354 and 362, 2015-16) and Quaternary sediment cores from the GBD (NSF-PIRE: Life on a tectonically active delta, 2010-18). We examine a complementary yet understudied stratigraphic record of the Miocene–Pliocene ancestral Brahmaputra Delta in outcrops of the Indo-Burman Ranges fold–thrust belt (IBR) of eastern India. We present detailed lithofacies assemblages of Neogene delta plain (Tipam Group) and intertidal to upper-shelf (Surma Group) deposits of the IBR based on two ∼ 500 m stratigraphic sections. New detrital-apatite fission-track (dAFT) and (U-Th)/He (dAHe) dates from the Surma Group in the IBR help to constrain maximum depositional ages (MDA), thermal histories, and sediment accumulation rates. Three fluvial facies (F1–F3) and four shallow marine to intertidal facies (M1–M4) are delineated based on analog depositional environments of the Holocene–modern GBD. Unreset dAFT and dAHe ages constrain MDA to ∼ 9–11 Ma for the Surma Group, which is bracketed by intensification of turbidite deposition on the eastern BNF (∼ 13.5–6.8 Ma). Two dAHe samples yielded younger (∼ 3 Ma) reset ages that we interpret to record cooling from denudation following burial resetting due to a thicker (∼ 2.2–3.2 km) accumulation of sediments near the depocenter. Thermal modeling of the dAFT and dAHe results using QTQt and HeFTy suggest that late Miocene marginal marine sediment accumulation rates may have ranged from ∼ 0.9 to 1.1 mm/yr near the center of the paleodelta. Thermal modeling results imply postdepositional cooling beginning at ∼ 8–6.5 Ma, interpreted to record onset of exhumation associated with the advancing IBR fold belt. The timing of post-burial exhumation of the IBR strata is consistent with previously published constraints for the avulsion of the paleo-Brahmaputra to the west and a westward shift of turbidite deposition on the BNF that started at ∼ 6.8 Ma. Our results contextualize tectonic controls on basin history, creating a pathway for future investigations into autogenic and climatic drivers of behavior of fluvial systems that can be extracted from the stratigraphic record.

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