Publication Details

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Title: Tectonic evolution of the early Mesozoic blueschist‐bearing Qiangtang metamorphic belt, central Tibet
Authors: P.A. Kapp, A. Yin, C.M. Manning, T.M. Harrison, M.H. Taylor, and L. Ding
Publication: Tectonics, v. 22, p. .
Publish Date: Aug 2003
DOI: 10.1029/2002TC001383
PDF: pdf
BibTEX Citation: Kapp2:2003.bib


A >500‐km‐long east‐west trending metamorphic belt in the Qiangtang terrane of central Tibet consists of tectonic melange that occurs in the footwalls of Late Triassic‐Early Jurassic domal low‐angle normal faults. The melange is comprised of a strongly deformed matrix of metasedimentary and mafic schists that encloses lesser‐deformed blocks of metabasites, Carboniferous‐Triassic metasedimentary rocks, and early Paleozoic gneiss. Both the blocks and melange matrix exhibit greenschist, epidote‐blueschist, and locally, epidote‐amphibolite facies mineral assemblages. Thermobarometry reveals that the metamorphic belt experienced pressures of >10 kbar. Maximum equilibration temperatures for mafic schists in the melange matrix decrease from east to west, from ⁓660°C near Shuang Hu (33°N, 89°E), ⁓500°C near Rongma (33°N, 87°E), to ⁓425°C near Gangma Co (34°N, 84°E). Equilibration at consistently high pressures over a large range of temperatures is compatible with metamorphism of Qiangtang melange within a low−angle subduction zone beneath a continental margin. Coupled structural, thermobarometric, and 40Ar/39Ar studies suggest that Qiangtang melange was exhumed in an intracontinental setting from depths of >35 km to upper crustal levels in <12 Myr by Late Triassic‐Early Jurassic crustal‐scale normal faulting. Detrital zircons from metasandstones within the melange matrix yield U‐Pb ion‐microprobe ages that range from early Paleozoic to Early Archean, and could have been sourced from terranes to the north of the Jinsha suture. Our results support a model in which Qiangtang melange was underthrust ⁓200 km beneath the Qiangtang terrane during early Mesozoic flat‐slab southward subduction of Paleo‐Tethyan oceanic lithosphere along the Jinsha suture. This model predicts that significant portions of the central Tibetan continental mantle lithosphere were removed during early Mesozoic low‐angle oceanic subduction and that the present‐day central Tibetan deeper crust includes large volumes of underthrust early Mesozoic melange.