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Weathering in the Himalaya, an East- West comparison: indications from major elements and clay mineralogy

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Geology
Issue number5
Volume125
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)515-529
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date12/07/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Studying past weathering regimes is important for a better understanding of the influence of climate on weathering, erosion, and runoff. The Himalayan foreland basin contains a record of tectonics and paleoclimate since Miocene times. Spanning the entire mountain range, the Mio-Pliocene detrital Siwalik Group allows studies to directly compare the western and eastern Himalaya within similar sedimentary settings. In this study, we use major elements and clay mineralogy to reconstruct the weathering regime along strike since Miocene times. We studied previously dated Dharamsala (pre-Siwalik) and Siwalik sections in the western (Joginder Nagar, Jawalamukhi, and Haripur Kolar) and eastern (Kameng) Himalaya in order to constrain variations in weathering regimes along strike. The compilation of the three sections in the west makes for one of the longest continuous sedimentary records in the Himalaya, spanning over 20 My. The K/Al ratio is used as a reliable weathering proxy and shows a trend toward more intense weathering over time in both the west and the east, but with sediments in the western Himalaya generally more weathered than those in the east, despite higher precipitation in the east. Clay minerals and major elements indicate similar lateral variations in weathering. More intense weathering in the west is linked to a more seasonal climate, permitting weathering of sediments during the dry season, whereas higher runoff in the east leads to more rapid erosion and sediment transport, inhibiting extensive weathering.

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© 2017 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.