Date of Award

12-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Geology

Major Professor

Micah J. Jessup

Committee Members

Robert D. Hatcher Jr., Lawrence A. Taylor, John. M. Cottle, Brian J. Edwards

Abstract

The north Himalayan gneiss domes are a series of isolated structures in southern-central Tibet that expose middle crust and record an early history of deformation, metamorphism, and partial melting. The domes are windows into the processes and physical conditions that promoted growth and uplift of the Himalaya during the early stage of collision (Eocene to Miocene) between India and Asia. Mechanisms responsible for creating the north Himalayan gneiss domes are crucial to understanding the early tectonic evolution of large orogens, such as the Himalaya, particularly with respect to crustal rheology and how middle crust is exhumed in collisional settings. Models for the formation and exhumation of these domes have been previously proposed and are based on both field evidence and thermomechanical modeling of the India-Asia collision. Each model has a set of predictable kinematic, metamorphic, and magmatic characteristics. This project focuses on a previously unstudied north Himalayan gneiss dome, Lhagoi Kangri, in order to (1) identify patterns of strain and metamorphism in the Himalayan middle to lower crust, (2) test previously developed models for north Himalayan gneiss domes, and (3) provide further constraints on the degree of commonality between the domes. Lhagoi Kangri is located ~100 km northeast of Mt. Everest. It comprises a cover of deformed, upper greenschist and amphibolite facies metasedimentary rocks and a core of orthogneiss and leucogranite. Results of this study indicate that rocks near the core-cover contact experienced Barrovian metamorphism c. 45–40 Ma followed by a prolonged period (≥11 My) of high temperatures (≥550 °C) during which pervasive ductile deformation resulted in the development of a distributed shear zone coeval with nearly isothermal decompression, the magnitude of which corresponds to ≥12 km of exhumation. The prolonged high temperatures, nearly isothermal decompression, and distributed ductile deformation demonstrate that there was structural continuity between the Lhagoi Kangri dome and other north Himalayan gneiss domes. Furthermore, these observations suggest that the middle crust was sufficiently weak to promote lateral flow that, in the Lhagoi Kangri dome, was accompanied by vertical attenuation.

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