Evidence for rapid displacement on Himalayan normal faults and the importance of tectonic denudation in the evolution of mountain ranges

Kip Hodges, Samuel Bowring, Kathleen Davidek, David Hawkins, Michael Krol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

126 Scopus citations

Abstract

East-striking, low-angle normal faults of the South Tibetan detachment system have played an important role in exposing the high-grade metamorphic core of the Himalayan orogen. In the Mount Everest region of southern Tibet, granites both pre- and postdate an important fault of the system, the Qomolangma detachment. New U-Pb and 40 Ar/ 39 Ar geochronologic data for these rocks constrain the age of brittle faulting to between 16.67±0.04 and 16.37±0.40 Ma, significantly expanding the known age range for extension in the central Himalaya (widely regarded as c20-22 Ma). More importantly, they indicate an average displacement rate of ≫47 mm/yr and a consequent tectonic unroofing rate of ≫8.2 mm/yr. Such unroofing is faster than all but the highest estimates of combined physical and chemical erosion rates in mountainous regions, suggesting that large-displacement normal faulting can be an extremely efficient agent of mass redistribution of orogenic systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-486
Number of pages4
JournalGeology
Volume26
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology

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