Zircon U–Pb–Hf constraints from Gongga Shan granites on young crustal melting in eastern Tibet

Roberts, Nick M.W.; Searle, Michael P.. 2019 Zircon U–Pb–Hf constraints from Gongga Shan granites on young crustal melting in eastern Tibet. Geoscience Frontiers, 10 (3). 885-894.

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The Gongga Shan batholith is a complex granitoid batholith on the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau with a long history of magmatism spanning from the Triassic to the Pliocene. Late Miocene–Pliocene units are the youngest exposed crustal melts within the entire Asian plate of the Tibetan Plateau. Here, we present in-situ zircon Hf isotope constraints on their magmatic source, to aid the understanding of how these young melts were formed and how they were exhumed to the surface. Hf isotope signatures of Eocene to Pliocene zircon rims (ɛHf(t) = –4 to +4), interpreted to have grown during localised crustal melting, are indicative of melting of a Neoproterozoic source region, equivalent to the nearby exposed Kangding Complex. Therefore, we suggest that Neoproterozoic crust underlies this region of the Songpan–Ganze terrane, and sourced the intrusive granites that form the Gongga Shan batholith. Localised young melting of Neoproterozoic lower or middle crust requires localised melt-fertile lithologies. We suggest that such melts may be equivalent to seismic and magnetotelluric low-velocity and high-conductivity zones or “bright spots” imaged across much of the Tibetan Plateau. The lack of widespread exposed melts this age is due either to the lack of melt-fertile rocks in the middle crust, the very low erosion level of the Tibetan plateau, or to a lack of mechanism for exhuming such melts. For Gongga Shan, where some melting is younger than nearby thermochronological ages of low temperature cooling, the exact process and timing of exhumation remains enigmatic, but their location away from the Xianshuihe fault precludes the fault acting as a conduit for the young melts. We suggest that underthrusting of dry granulites of the lower Indian crust (Archean shield) this far northeast is a plausible mechanism to explain the uplift and exhumation of the eastern Tibetan Plateau.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 16749871
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 29 Mar 2018 08:47 +0 (UTC)

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