To test previously suggested exhumation histories of the Gangdese Batholith in the central part of the Transhimalayan plutonic belt, we conducted paired apatite and zircon (U-Th)/He thermochronological investigations of the Yarlung Zangbo gorge in the central part of the batholith. Age-elevation relationships and multisystem thermochronometers showed three periods of accelerated exhumation (∼46–48, ∼22–18, and ∼11–8 Ma). Combining these data with previously published thermochronological ages and synthesizing these ages with regional geological events provides an entire exhumation history. The Cretaceous–Early Paleogene exhumation of the Gangdese Batholith was probably caused by both the northward subduction of the Neo-Tethys and the collision between the Lhasa and Qiangtang blocks. The Early Miocene rapid exhumation might be a response to shortening caused by the Gangdese Thrust or erosion driven by dynamic uplift following lithospheric delamination. In contrast, the Late Miocene exhumation is coincident with both the proposed capture of the Yarlung Zangbo gorge by a foreland draining catchment and the intensification of the Asian monsoon, as well as normal faulting. Hence, the latest stage of exhumation might be attributed to the incision of the Yarlung Zangbo gorge, the activity of a north-south fault, or both.

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