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Late Miocene Unroofing of the Inner Lesser Himalaya Recorded in the NW Himalaya Foreland Basin

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>29/06/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Basin Research
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date29/06/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Testing models that link climate and solid Earth tectonics in mountain belts requires independent erosional, structural and climatic histories. Two well preserved stratigraphic sections of the Himalayan foreland basin are exposed in NW India. The Jawalamukhi (13–5 Ma) and Joginder Nagar sections (21–13 Ma) are dated by magnetostratigraphy and span a period of significant climate change and tectonic evolution. We combine sediment geochemistry, detrital zircon U-Pb dating, and apatite fission track analyses to reconstruct changes in the patterns of erosion and exhumation in this area from the Early Miocene to Pliocene. The provenance of the foreland sediments reflects a mixture of Tethyan and Greater Himalayan sources from 21 to 11 Ma, with influx from the Inner Lesser Himalaya starting after 11 Ma, and a strong increase in Crystalline Inner Lesser Himalayan erosion after 8 Ma. This distinct shift in provenance most likely reflects exhumation of the Kullu-Rampur Window, as well as the northward motion of the Jawalamukhi section towards the Himalayas, drainage reorganization in the foreland, and/or tectonically driven drainage capture in the mountains. Prior to 10.5 Ma sediment came from a large river whose sources were Greater Himalaya and Haimanta dominated, likely a paleo-Sutlej, while after 8 Ma the source river was dominated by a more local drainage. Our work is consistent with Nd isotope and mica Ar-Ar constraints from the same sections that demonstrate initial Inner Lesser Himalayan unroofing in this region from 11 Ma, earlier than the 2 Ma implied from the marine record and during a period of summer monsoon weakening when fission track data indicate very rapid cooling and erosion of the Lesser Himalaya sources from no later than10 Ma. Tectonically driven rock uplift coupled with southerly migration of the maximum rainfall belt during a time of drying, may have focused erosion over the Lesser Himalayan Duplex and created the Kullu-Rampur Window.