The metamorphic core of the Himalayan orogen, or Greater Himalayan sequence, is a northward tapering prism bound at the bottom by a N dipping family of thrust faults (the Main Central thrust system) and at the top by a N dipping family of normal faults (the South Tibetan detachment system). Research in the central Annapurna Range of Nepal demonstrates a close temporal and spatial association between contractional and extensional deformation on these bounding fault systems and within the metamorphic core throughout much of the Early Miocene. The Main Central thrust system is represented here by a 2- to 3-km-thick zone of high strain that developed during two or more episodes of movement. Most of its displacement was concentrated along the Chomrong thrust, a sharp, late-metamorphic discontinuity that places middle amphibolite facies rocks of the Greater Himalayan sequence on top of lower amphibolite facies rocks of the Lesser Himalayan sequence. The earliest demonstrable movement on this thrust system occurred ∼22.5 Ma; the most recent movement may be as young as Pliocene. The oldest element of the South Tibetan detachment system in this area is the Deorali detachment, which appears to have been active at the same time as the earliest shortening structures of the Main Central thrust system. Fabrics related to the Deorali detachment are disrupted by a previously unrecognized, SW vergent, thrust structure, the Modi Khola shear zone. The effect of this structure, which is constrained to be between 22.5 and 18.5 Ma, was to shorten rock packages that had been extended previously during movement on the Deorali detachment. Transition back to a local extensional regime after 18.5 Ma was marked by development of the Machhupuchhare detachment and related splays. Geologic evidence for rapid, two-way transitions between contraction and extension in the Annapurna Range indicates that extensional deformation in convergent settings does not only represent gravitational collapse at the end of an orogenic cycle; it also appears to be an important factor in mountain range development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology