Comparative evolution of the Shyok and Yarlung suture zones: implications for the collision Between India and Eurasia

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The collision between the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates marked the onset of the rise of the Himalayan-Tibetan orogen, but also brought about profound changes to the Earth's oceans and

The collision between the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates marked the onset of the rise of the Himalayan-Tibetan orogen, but also brought about profound changes to the Earth's oceans and climate. The exact sequence of events that occurred during this collision is poorly understood, leading to a wide range of estimates of its age. The Indus and Yarlung sutures are generally considered to represent the final collision between India and Eurasia, and together form a mostly continuous belt that can be traced over 2000 km along strike. In the western portions of the orogen the Karakoram Fault introduces a key complexity to the study of timing of collision by offsetting the Indus and Yarlung sutures. Recent work has used the complexities introduced by the Karakoram Fault to suggest that the more northerly Shyok suture, not the Indus suture, represents the India-Eurasia collision zone. Estimates for timing of the India-Eurasia collision fall into one of three groups: 40-34 Ma, 55-50 Ma, and 66-60 Ma. Attempts to reconcile these models have thus far been unsuccessful. In order to provide additional data that might further clarify the timing and location of collision, studies have been performed along the Shyok suture in India and along the Yarlung suture in Tibet at Sangsang. A study along the Shyok suture argues that the suture formed between 92-85 Ma. This timing precludes an interpretation that the Shyok suture marks the location of the India-Eurasia collision. A second study demonstrates the utility of two new geochronometers, (U-Th)/Pb joaquinite and 40Ar/39Ar neptunite, that play an important role in unraveling the tectonic history of the Yarlung suture. A third study is an investigation of the structure and geochronology of the Sangsang ophiolite complex. Here, multiple (U-Th)/Pb and 40Ar/39Ar systems record magmatism and metamorphism spanning ca. 125-52 Ma. By tying these chronometers to tectonic process, a history is reconstructed of the southern margin of Tibet that includes Early Cretaceous to Late Cretaceous forearc rifting associated with mid ocean ridge subduction, Paleocene accretionary wedge uplift and erosion, and finally Eocene metasomatism and collision.