Matching Items (8)

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Plio-Pleistocene north-south and east-west extension at the southern margin of the Tibetan Plateau

Description

The tectonic significance of the physiographic transition from the low-relief Tibetan plateau to the high peaks, rugged topography and deep gorges of the Himalaya is the source of much controversy. Some workers have suggested the transition may be structurally controlled

The tectonic significance of the physiographic transition from the low-relief Tibetan plateau to the high peaks, rugged topography and deep gorges of the Himalaya is the source of much controversy. Some workers have suggested the transition may be structurally controlled (e.g. Hodges et al., 2001), and indeed, the sharp change in geomorphic character across the transition strongly suggests differential uplift between the Himalayan realm and the southernmost Tibetan Plateau. Most Himalayan researchers credit the South Tibetan fault system (STFS), a family of predominantly east-west trending, low-angle normal faults with a known trace of over 2,000 km along the Himalayan crest (e.g. Burchfiel et al., 1992), with defining the southern margin of the Tibetan Plateau in the Early Miocene. Inasmuch as most mapped strands of the STFS have not been active since the Middle Miocene (e.g., Searle & Godin, 2003), modern-day control of the physiographic transition by this fault system seems unlikely. However, several workers have documented Quaternary slip on east-west striking, N-directed extensional faults, of a similar structural nature but typically at a different tectonostratigraphic level than the principal STFS strand, in several locations across the range (Nakata, 1989; Wu et al., 1998; Hurtado et al., 2001). In order to explore the nature of the physiographic transition and determine its relationship to potential Quaternary faulting, I examined three field sites: the Kali Gandaki valley in central Nepal (~28˚39'54"N; 83˚35'06"E), the Nyalam region of south-central Tibet (28°03'23.3"N, 86°03'54.08"E), and the Ama Drime Range in southernmost Tibet (87º15'-87º50'E; 27º45'-28º30'N). Research in each of these areas yielded evidence of young faulting on structures with normal-sense displacement in various forms: the structural truncation of lithostratigraphic units, distinctive fault scarps, or abrupt changes in bedrock cooling age patterns. These structures are accompanied by geomorphic changes implying structural control, particularly sharp knickpoints in rivers that drain from the Tibetan Plateau, across the range crest, and down through the southern flank of the Himalaya. Collectively, my structural, geomorphic, and thermochronometric studies confirm the existence of extensional structures near the physiographic transition that have been active more recently than 1.5 Ma in central Nepal, and over the last 3.5 Ma in south-central Tibet. The structural history of the Ama Drime Range is complex and new thermochronologic data suggest multiple phases of E-W extension from the Middle Miocene to the Holocene. Mapping in the accessible portions of the range did not yield evidence for young N-S extension, although my observations do not preclude such deformation on structures south of the study area. In contrast, the two other study areas yielded direct evidence that Quaternary faulting may be controlling the position and nature of the physiographic transition across the central Tibetan Plateau-Himalaya orogenic system.

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2012

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Exploring the history of India-Eurasia collision and subsequent deformation in the Indus Basin, NW Indian Himalaya

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Understanding the evolution of the Himalayan-Tibetan orogen is important because of its purported effects on global geodynamics, geochemistry and climate. It is surprising that the timing of initiation of this canonical collisional orogen is poorly constrained, with estimates ranging from

Understanding the evolution of the Himalayan-Tibetan orogen is important because of its purported effects on global geodynamics, geochemistry and climate. It is surprising that the timing of initiation of this canonical collisional orogen is poorly constrained, with estimates ranging from Late Cretaceous to Early Oligocene. This study focuses on the Ladakh region in the northwestern Indian Himalaya, where early workers suggested that sedimentary deposits of the Indus Basin molasse sequence, located in the suture zone, preserve a record of the early evolution of orogenesis, including initial collision between India and Eurasia. Recent studies have challenged this interpretation, but resolution of the issue has been hampered by poor accessibility, paucity of robust depositional age constraints, and disputed provenance of many units in the succession. To achieve a better understanding of the stratigraphy of the Indus Basin, multispectral remote sensing image analysis resulted in a new geologic map that is consistent with field observations and previously published datasets, but suggests a substantial revision and simplification of the commonly assumed stratigraphic architecture of the basin. This stratigraphic framework guided a series of new provenance studies, wherein detrital U-Pb geochronology, 40Ar/39Ar and (U-Th)/He thermochronology, and trace-element geochemistry not only discount the hypothesis that collision began in the Early Oligocene, but also demonstrate that both Indian and Eurasian detritus arrived in the basin prior to deposition of the last marine limestone, constraining the age of collision to older than Early Eocene. Detrital (U-Th)/He thermochronology further elucidates the thermal history of the basin. Thus, we constrain backthrusting, thought to be an important mechanism by which Miocene convergence was accommodated, to between 11-7 Ma. Finally, an unprecedented conventional (U-Th)/He thermochronologic dataset was generated from a modern river sand to assess steady state assumptions of the source region. Using these data, the question of the minimum number of dates required for robust interpretation was critically evaluated. The application of a newly developed (U-Th)/He UV-laser-microprobe thermochronologic technique confirmed the results of the conventional dataset. This technique improves the practical utility of detrital mineral (U-Th)/He thermochronology, and will facilitate future studies of this type.

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2011

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Late Cenozoic-recent tectonics of the southwestern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, Ladakh, northwest India

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The Himalayan orogenic system is one of the youngest and most spectacular examples of a continent-continent collision on earth. Although the collision zone has been the subject of extensive research, fundamental questions remain concerning the architecture and evolution of the

The Himalayan orogenic system is one of the youngest and most spectacular examples of a continent-continent collision on earth. Although the collision zone has been the subject of extensive research, fundamental questions remain concerning the architecture and evolution of the orogen. Of particular interest are the structures surrounding the 5 km high Tibetan Plateau, as these features record both the collisional and post-collisional evolution of the orogen. In this study we examine structures along the southwestern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, including the Karakoram (KFS) and Longmu Co (LCF) faults, and the Ladakh, Pangong and Karakoram Ranges. New low-temperature thermochronology data collected from across the Ladakh, Pangong and Karakoram Ranges improved the spatial resolution of exhumation patterns adjacent to the edge of the plateau. These data show a southwest to northeast decrease in cooling ages, which is the trailing end of a wave of decreased exhumation related to changes in the overall amount of north-south shortening accommodated across the region. We also posit that north-south shortening is responsible for the orientation of the LCF in India. Previously, the southern end of the LCF was unmapped. We used ASTER remotely sensed images to create a comprehensive lithologic map of the region, which allowed us to map the LCF into India. This mapping shows that this fault has been rotated into parallelism with the Karakoram fault system as a result of N-S shortening and dextral shear on the KFS. Additionally, the orientation and sense of motion along these two systems implies that they are acting as a conjugate fault pair, allowing the eastward extrusion of the Tibet. Finally, we identify and quantify late Quaternary slip on the Tangtse strand of the KFS, which was previously believed to be inactive. Our study found that this fault strand accommodated ca. 6 mm/yr of slip over the last ca. 33-6 ka. Additionally, we speculate that slip is temporally partitioned between the two fault strands, implying that this part of the fault system is more complex than previously believed.

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2014

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Tectonic and climatic influence on the evolution of the Bhutan Himalaya

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The Himalaya are the archetypal example of a continental collision belt, formed by the ongoing convergence between India and Eurasia. Boasting some of the highest and most rugged topography on Earth, there is currently no consensus on how climatic and

The Himalaya are the archetypal example of a continental collision belt, formed by the ongoing convergence between India and Eurasia. Boasting some of the highest and most rugged topography on Earth, there is currently no consensus on how climatic and tectonic processes have combined to shape its topographic evolution. The Kingdom of Bhutan in the eastern Himalaya provides a unique opportunity to study the interconnections among Himalayan climate, topography, erosion, and tectonics. The eastern Himalaya are remarkably different from the rest of the orogen, most strikingly due to the presence of the Shillong Plateau to the south of the Himalayan rangefront. The tectonic structures associated with the Shillong Plateau have accommodated convergence between India and Eurasia and created a natural experiment to test the possible response of the Himalaya to a reduction in local shortening. In addition, the position and orientation of the plateau topography has intercepted moisture once bound for the Himalaya and created a natural experiment to test the possible response of the range to a reduction in rainfall. I focused this study around the gently rolling landscapes found in the middle of the otherwise extremely rugged Bhutan Himalaya, with the understanding that these landscapes likely record a recent change in the evolution of the range. I have used geochronometric, thermochronometric, and cosmogenic nuclide techniques, combined with thermal-kinematic and landscape evolution models to draw three primary conclusions. 1) The cooling histories of bedrock samples from the hinterland of the Bhutan Himalaya show a protracted decrease in erosion rate from the Middle Miocene toward the Pliocene. I have attributed this change to a reduction in shortening rates across the Himalayan mountain belt, due to increased accommodation of shortening across the Shillong Plateau. 2) The low-relief landscapes of Bhutan were likely created by backtilting and surface uplift produced by an active, blind, hinterland duplex. These landscapes were formed during surface uplift, which initiated ca. 1.5 Ma and has totaled 800 m. 3) Millennial-scale erosion rates are coupled with modern rainfall rates. Non-linear relationships between topographic metrics and erosion rates, suggest a fundamental difference in the mode of river incision within the drier interior of Bhutan and the wetter foothills.

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2014

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The use of terrestrial analogs in preparing for planetary surface exploration: sampling and radioisotopic dating of impactites and deployment of in situ analytical technologies

Description

Impact cratering has played a crucial role in the surface development of the inner planets. Constraining the timing of this bombardment history is important in understanding the origins of life and our planet's evolution. Plate tectonics, active volcanism, and vegetation

Impact cratering has played a crucial role in the surface development of the inner planets. Constraining the timing of this bombardment history is important in understanding the origins of life and our planet's evolution. Plate tectonics, active volcanism, and vegetation hinder the preservation and identification of existing impact craters on Earth. Providing age constraints on these elusive structures will provide a deeper understanding of our planet's development. To do this, (U-Th)/He thermochronology and in situ 40Ar/39Ar laser microprobe geochronology are used to provide ages for the Haughton and Mistastin Lake impact structures, both located in northern Canada. While terrestrial impact structures provide accessible laboratories for deciphering Earth's impact history, the ultimate goal for understanding the history of the reachable inner Solar System is to acquire robust, quantitative age constraints for the large lunar impact basins. The oldest of these is the South Pole-Aitken basin (SPA), located on the lunar farside. While it is known that this basin is stratigraphically the oldest on the Moon, its absolute age has yet to be determined. Several reports released in the last decade have highlighted sampling and dating SPA as a top priority for inner Solar System exploration. This is no easy task as the SPA structure has been modified by four billion subsequent years of impact events. Informed by studies at Mistastin - which has target lithologies analogous to those at SPA - sampling strategies are discussed that are designed to optimize the probability of a high science return with regard to robust geochronology of the SPA basin. Planetary surface missions, like one designed to explore and sample SPA, require the integration of engineering constraints with scientific goals and traverse planning. The inclusion of in situ geochemical technology, such as the handheld X-ray fluorescence spectrometer (hXRF), into these missions will provide human crews with the ability to gain a clearer contextual picture of the landing site and aid with sample high-grading. The introduction of hXRF technology could be of crucial importance in identifying SPA-derived melts. In addition to enhancing planetary field geology, hXRF deployment could also have real implications for enriching terrestrial field geology.

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2014

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Strategies for (U-Th)/Pb Geochronology of Impact Structures: Lessons from the West Clearwater Lake Crater, Canada

Description

Establishing the timing of impact crater formation is essential to exploring the relationship between bolide impact and biological evolution, and constraining the tempo of planetary surface evolution. Unfortunately, precise and accurate impact geochronology can be challenging. Many of the rock

Establishing the timing of impact crater formation is essential to exploring the relationship between bolide impact and biological evolution, and constraining the tempo of planetary surface evolution. Unfortunately, precise and accurate impact geochronology can be challenging. Many of the rock products of impact (impactites) contain relict, pre-impact phases that may have had their isotopic systematics completely reset during the impact event, only partially reset, or not reset at all. Of the many isotopic chronometers that have been used to date impactites, the U/Pb zircon chronometer (ZrnPb) seems least susceptible to post-impact disturbances, and ZrnPb dates are typically much more precise than those obtained using other chronometers. However, the ZrnPb system is so resistant to resetting that relict zircons in impactites often yield dates that reflect the igneous or metamorphic ages of the target rocks rather than the age of the impact itself. The present study was designed to answer a simple question: is there a straightforward sample collection and analysis strategy for high-accuracy ZrnPb dating of an impact structure if the impactites collected from it may contain inherited zircons? To study this, ZrnPb dates were determined for impactites from a single crater with a well-constrained impact age: the West Clearwater Lake impact structure, located at Lake Wiyâshâkimî, Québec, Canada.

The amount of ZrnPb resetting and the mechanisms responsible for resetting varied amongst the samples. Each sample characteristically contained either: newly crystallized zircons from the impact melt ("neocrystalline"), relict zircons ~50-100% reset, or, relict zircons ~0-50% reset. The variably reset relict zircons define a discordia line from ~2700 Ma to ~286 Ma – consistent with the ages of the target rock and the impact, respectively (Schmieder et al., 2015a; Simard, 2004). ZrnPb measurements from the neocrystalline zircons provided a new preferred impact age of 286.64 ± 0.35 Ma (2σ), a ~10x improvement in precision. The characteristics of the West Clearwater ZrnPb data vary between samples yet become easily interpretable as a whole, showing that efforts to measure robust, precise impact ages benefit from strategies that prioritize applying multiple analytical techniques to multiple types of impactite from the same crater.

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2019

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The Late Cenozoic Climatic and Tectonic Evolution of the Mount Everest Region, Central Himalaya

Description

The collision of India and Eurasia constructed the Himalayan Mountains. Questions remain regarding how subsequent exhumation by climatic and tectonic processes shaped the landscape throughout the Late Cenozoic to create the complex architecture observed today. The Mount Everest region underwent

The collision of India and Eurasia constructed the Himalayan Mountains. Questions remain regarding how subsequent exhumation by climatic and tectonic processes shaped the landscape throughout the Late Cenozoic to create the complex architecture observed today. The Mount Everest region underwent tectonic denudation by extension and bestrides one of the world’s most significant rain shadows. Also, glacial and fluvial processes eroded the Everest massif over shorter timescales. In this work, I review new bedrock and detrital thermochronological and geochronological data and both one- and two-dimensional thermal-mechanical modeling that provides insights on the age range and rates of tectonic and erosional processes in this region.

A strand of the South Tibetan detachment system (STDS), a series of prominent normal-sense structures that dip to the north and strike along the Himalayan spine, is exposed in the Rongbuk valley near Everest. Using thermochronometric techniques, thermal-kinematic modeling, and published (U-Th)/Pb geochronology, I show exhumation rates were high (~3-4 mm/a) from at least 20 to 13 Ma because of slip on the STDS. Subsequently, exhumation rates dropped drastically to ≤ 0.5 mm/a and remain low today. However, thermochronometric datasets and thermal-kinematic modeling results from Nepal south of Everest reveal a sharp transition in cooling ages and exhumation rates across a major knickpoint in the river profile, corresponding to the modern-day Himalayan rainfall transition. To the north of this transition, exhumation histories are similar to those in Tibet. Conversely, < 3 km south of the transition, exhumation rates were relatively low until the Pliocene, when they increased to ~4 mm/a before slowing at ~3 Ma. Such contrasting exhumation histories over a short distance suggest that bedrock exhumation rates correlate with modern precipitation patterns in deep time, however, there are competing interpretations regarding this correlation.

My work also provides insights regarding how processes of glacial erosion act in a glacio-fluvial valley north of Everest. Integrated laser ablation U/Pb and (U-Th)/He dating of detrital zircon from fluvial and moraine sediments reveal sourcing from distinctive areas of the catchment. In general, the glacial advances eroded material from lower elevations, while the glacial outwash system carries material from higher elevations.

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2017

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High Spatial Resolution 40Ar/39Ar Geochronology of Lunar Impact Melt Rocks

Description

Impact cratering has played a key role in the evolution of the solid surfaces of Solar System bodies. While much of Earth’s impact record has been erased, its Moon preserves an extensive history of bombardment. Quantifying the timing of lunar

Impact cratering has played a key role in the evolution of the solid surfaces of Solar System bodies. While much of Earth’s impact record has been erased, its Moon preserves an extensive history of bombardment. Quantifying the timing of lunar impact events is crucial to understanding how impacts have shaped the evolution of early Earth, and provides the basis for estimating the ages of other cratered surfaces in the Solar System.

Many lunar impact melt rocks are complex mixtures of glassy and crystalline “melt” materials and inherited clasts of pre-impact minerals and rocks. If analyzed in bulk, these samples can yield complicated incremental release 40Ar/39Ar spectra, making it challenging to uniquely interpret impact ages. Here, I have used a combination of high-spatial resolution 40Ar/39Ar geochronology and thermal-kinetic modeling to gain new insights into the impact histories recorded by such lunar samples.

To compare my data to those of previous studies, I developed a software tool to account for differences in the decay, isotopic, and monitor age parameters used for different published 40Ar/39Ar datasets. Using an ultraviolet laser ablation microprobe (UVLAMP) system I selectively dated melt and clast components of impact melt rocks collected during the Apollo 16 and 17 missions. UVLAMP 40Ar/39Ar data for samples 77135, 60315, 61015, and 63355 show evidence of open-system behavior, and provide new insights into how to interpret some complexities of published incremental heating 40Ar/39Ar spectra. Samples 77115, 63525, 63549, and 65015 have relatively simple thermal histories, and UVLAMP 40Ar/39Ar data for the melt components of these rocks indicate the timing of impact events—spanning hundreds of millions of years—that influenced the Apollo 16 and 17 sites. My modeling and UVLAMP 40Ar/39Ar data for sample 73217 indicate that some impact melt rocks can quantitatively retain evidence for multiple melt-producing impact events, and imply that such polygenetic rocks should be regarded as high-value sampling opportunities during future exploration missions to cratered planetary surfaces. Collectively, my results complement previous incremental heating 40Ar/39Ar studies, and support interpretations that the Moon experienced a prolonged period of heavy bombardment early in its history.

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2017