Two-phase growth of high topography in eastern Tibet during the Cenozoic

E. Wang, E. Kirby, K. P. Furlong, Matthijs Van Soest, G. Xu, X. Shi, P. J J Kamp, Kip Hodges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

284 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

High topography in eastern Tibet is thought to have formed when deep crust beneath the central Tibetan Plateau flowed towards the plateau margin, causing crustal thickening and surface uplift. Rapid exhumation starting about 10-15 million years ago is inferred to mark the onset of surface uplift and fluvial incision. Although geophysical data are consistent with weak crust capable of flow, it is unclear how the timing and amount of deformation adjacent to the Sichuan Basin during the Cenozoic era can be explained in this way. Here we use thermochronology to measure the cooling histories of rocks exposed in a section that stretches vertically over 3km adjacent to the Sichuan Basin. Our thermal models of exhumation-driven cooling show that these rocks, and hence the plateau margin, were subject to slow, steady exhumation during early Cenozoic time, followed by two pulses of rapid exhumation, one beginning 30-25million years ago and a second 10-15million years ago that continues to present. Our findings imply that significant topographic relief existed adjacent to the Sichuan Basin before the Indo-Asian collision. Furthermore, the onset of Cenozoic mountain building probably pre-dated development of the weak lower crust, implying that early topography was instead formed during thickening of the upper crust along faults. We suggest that episodes of mountain building may reflect distinct geodynamic mechanisms of crustal thickening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-645
Number of pages6
JournalNature Geoscience
Volume5
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2012

Fingerprint

exhumation
topography
crustal thickening
plateau
uplift
basin
crust
cooling
thermochronology
mountain
upper crust
rock
lower crust
geodynamics
relief
collision
history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

Wang, E., Kirby, E., Furlong, K. P., Van Soest, M., Xu, G., Shi, X., ... Hodges, K. (2012). Two-phase growth of high topography in eastern Tibet during the Cenozoic. Nature Geoscience, 5(9), 640-645. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1538

Two-phase growth of high topography in eastern Tibet during the Cenozoic. / Wang, E.; Kirby, E.; Furlong, K. P.; Van Soest, Matthijs; Xu, G.; Shi, X.; Kamp, P. J J; Hodges, Kip.

In: Nature Geoscience, Vol. 5, No. 9, 09.2012, p. 640-645.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Wang, E, Kirby, E, Furlong, KP, Van Soest, M, Xu, G, Shi, X, Kamp, PJJ & Hodges, K 2012, 'Two-phase growth of high topography in eastern Tibet during the Cenozoic', Nature Geoscience, vol. 5, no. 9, pp. 640-645. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1538
Wang E, Kirby E, Furlong KP, Van Soest M, Xu G, Shi X et al. Two-phase growth of high topography in eastern Tibet during the Cenozoic. Nature Geoscience. 2012 Sep;5(9):640-645. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1538
Wang, E. ; Kirby, E. ; Furlong, K. P. ; Van Soest, Matthijs ; Xu, G. ; Shi, X. ; Kamp, P. J J ; Hodges, Kip. / Two-phase growth of high topography in eastern Tibet during the Cenozoic. In: Nature Geoscience. 2012 ; Vol. 5, No. 9. pp. 640-645.
@article{97c00e40204447d6814bb31ae89a4f5e,
title = "Two-phase growth of high topography in eastern Tibet during the Cenozoic",
abstract = "High topography in eastern Tibet is thought to have formed when deep crust beneath the central Tibetan Plateau flowed towards the plateau margin, causing crustal thickening and surface uplift. Rapid exhumation starting about 10-15 million years ago is inferred to mark the onset of surface uplift and fluvial incision. Although geophysical data are consistent with weak crust capable of flow, it is unclear how the timing and amount of deformation adjacent to the Sichuan Basin during the Cenozoic era can be explained in this way. Here we use thermochronology to measure the cooling histories of rocks exposed in a section that stretches vertically over 3km adjacent to the Sichuan Basin. Our thermal models of exhumation-driven cooling show that{\^A} these rocks, and hence the plateau margin, were subject to slow, steady exhumation during early Cenozoic time, followed by two pulses of rapid exhumation, one beginning 30-25million years ago and a second 10-15million years ago that continues to present. Our findings imply that significant topographic relief existed adjacent to the Sichuan Basin before the Indo-Asian collision. Furthermore, the onset of Cenozoic mountain building probably pre-dated development of the weak lower crust, implying that early topography was instead formed during thickening of the upper crust along faults. We suggest that episodes of mountain building may reflect distinct geodynamic mechanisms of crustal thickening.",
author = "E. Wang and E. Kirby and Furlong, {K. P.} and {Van Soest}, Matthijs and G. Xu and X. Shi and Kamp, {P. J J} and Kip Hodges",
year = "2012",
month = "9",
doi = "10.1038/ngeo1538",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "5",
pages = "640--645",
journal = "Nature Geoscience",
issn = "1752-0894",
publisher = "Nature Publishing Group",
number = "9",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Two-phase growth of high topography in eastern Tibet during the Cenozoic

AU - Wang, E.

AU - Kirby, E.

AU - Furlong, K. P.

AU - Van Soest, Matthijs

AU - Xu, G.

AU - Shi, X.

AU - Kamp, P. J J

AU - Hodges, Kip

PY - 2012/9

Y1 - 2012/9

N2 - High topography in eastern Tibet is thought to have formed when deep crust beneath the central Tibetan Plateau flowed towards the plateau margin, causing crustal thickening and surface uplift. Rapid exhumation starting about 10-15 million years ago is inferred to mark the onset of surface uplift and fluvial incision. Although geophysical data are consistent with weak crust capable of flow, it is unclear how the timing and amount of deformation adjacent to the Sichuan Basin during the Cenozoic era can be explained in this way. Here we use thermochronology to measure the cooling histories of rocks exposed in a section that stretches vertically over 3km adjacent to the Sichuan Basin. Our thermal models of exhumation-driven cooling show that these rocks, and hence the plateau margin, were subject to slow, steady exhumation during early Cenozoic time, followed by two pulses of rapid exhumation, one beginning 30-25million years ago and a second 10-15million years ago that continues to present. Our findings imply that significant topographic relief existed adjacent to the Sichuan Basin before the Indo-Asian collision. Furthermore, the onset of Cenozoic mountain building probably pre-dated development of the weak lower crust, implying that early topography was instead formed during thickening of the upper crust along faults. We suggest that episodes of mountain building may reflect distinct geodynamic mechanisms of crustal thickening.

AB - High topography in eastern Tibet is thought to have formed when deep crust beneath the central Tibetan Plateau flowed towards the plateau margin, causing crustal thickening and surface uplift. Rapid exhumation starting about 10-15 million years ago is inferred to mark the onset of surface uplift and fluvial incision. Although geophysical data are consistent with weak crust capable of flow, it is unclear how the timing and amount of deformation adjacent to the Sichuan Basin during the Cenozoic era can be explained in this way. Here we use thermochronology to measure the cooling histories of rocks exposed in a section that stretches vertically over 3km adjacent to the Sichuan Basin. Our thermal models of exhumation-driven cooling show that these rocks, and hence the plateau margin, were subject to slow, steady exhumation during early Cenozoic time, followed by two pulses of rapid exhumation, one beginning 30-25million years ago and a second 10-15million years ago that continues to present. Our findings imply that significant topographic relief existed adjacent to the Sichuan Basin before the Indo-Asian collision. Furthermore, the onset of Cenozoic mountain building probably pre-dated development of the weak lower crust, implying that early topography was instead formed during thickening of the upper crust along faults. We suggest that episodes of mountain building may reflect distinct geodynamic mechanisms of crustal thickening.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84865729955&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84865729955&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1038/ngeo1538

DO - 10.1038/ngeo1538

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84865729955

VL - 5

SP - 640

EP - 645

JO - Nature Geoscience

JF - Nature Geoscience

SN - 1752-0894

IS - 9

ER -