Unraveling the relative roles of erosion and tectonics in shaping the modern topography of active orogens requires datasets documenting spatial and temporal patterns of exhumation, surface uplift and climatic forcing throughout orogenic growth. Here we report the results of biotite 40Ar/39Ar incremental heating and single-grain laser-fusion experiments from a nearly vertical, ∼ 1000 m age-elevation transect in the central Nepalese Himalaya. Age-elevation relationships constructed from these data suggest very slow cooling in this part of the Himalayan crystalline core during the Early Miocene, accelerating to only moderate rates at ∼ 10 Ma. If we assume purely vertical exhumation and a steady-state thermal structure, the exhumation rates implied by these data are ≪ 0.1 mm/yr prior to 10 Ma and ∼ 0.5 mm/yr from ∼ 10-7 Ma. The acceleration in cooling rate at 10 Ma requires a change in kinematics that may be linked to large-scale changes in climate, or to more local tectonic perturbations. Although we do not presently have enough data to assess the relative roles of regional vs. local drivers, these data provide a new constraint on exhumation through the Miocene that must be honored by any model of Himalayan evolution.
- argon thermochronology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science