The structure and metamorphic evolution of the High Himalayan Slab in SE Zanskar and NW Lahaul
This thesis attempts to unravel the complex thermal and structural history of part of the High Himalayan Slab in NW India and combines reconnaissance-style field structural mapping of an area covering ~10,000 km2 with petrography, microstructural analysis, thermobarometry and geochronology techniques. The results of this work show that the oldest protoliths of the High Himalayan Slab are at least Cambrian in age and that they may have experienced a major pre-Himalayan metamorphism at c.500 Ma. The youngest protoliths are Mesozoic in age (the Tandi Group) and demonstrate that the High Himalayan Slab represents the metamorphosed equivalents of the Tibetan Sedimentary Series. Metamorphism was achieved via substantial crustal shortening and thickening following the India-Asia collision at 50-54 Ma ago. Phase relationships demonstrate that metamorphism was a regional Barrovian-type event associated with the growth of biotite-, garnet-, staurolite-, kyanite- and sillimanite-bearing assemblages in metapelites. Quantitative thermobarometry demonstrates that near-peak conditions of c.6-8 kbar and 550-650°C were attained in the deepest exposed levels. Growth of metamorphic assemblages was underway by at least 30 Ma, as indicated by U-Pb ages of metamorphic monazites. Exhumation of the High Himalayan Slab was achieved through a combination of extensional unroofing along major detachments (namely the Zanskar Shear Zone), thermal doming, thrusting along the Main Central Thrust and surface erosion. Exhumation is closely associated with the growth of sillimanite- and cordierite-bearing assemblages in pelites and the generation and emplacement of crustal melt leucogranites in the upper parts of the slab. U-Pb dating of accessory phases from one of the crustal melt leucogranites (the Gumburanjon leucogranite) constrains its crystallisation and emplacement age at c.21-22 Ma. This is only slightly older than its 40Ar/39Ar muscovite and biotite cooling ages of c.20-21 Ma, which is attributed to the emplacement of the Gumburanjon leucogranite into the immediate footwall of the ZSZ. Field and geochronological data therefore support a strong temporal and spatial relationship between upper crustal melting and extension in a convergent orogen.