Dome formation and extension in the Tethyan Himalaya, Leo Pargil, northwest India

Rasmus C. Thiede, Ramon Arrowsmith, Bodo Bookhagen, Michael McWilliams, Edward R. Sobel, Manfred R. Strecker

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124 Scopus citations


Metamorphic dome complexes occur within the internal structures of the northern Himalaya and southern Tibet. Their origin, deformation, and fault displacement patterns are poorly constrained. We report new field mapping, structural data, and cooling ages from the western flank of the Leo Pargil dome in the northwestern Himalaya in an attempt to characterize its post-middle Miocene structural development. The western flank of the dome is characterized by shallow, west-dipping pervasive foliation and WNW-ESE mineral lineation. Shear-sense indicators demonstrate that it is affected by east-west normal faulting that facilitated exhumation of highgrade metamorphic rocks in a contractional setting. Sustained top-to-northwest normal faulting during exhumation is observed in a progressive transition from ductile to brittle deformation. Garnet and kyanite indicate that the Leo Pargil dome was exhumed from the mid-crust. 40Ar/39Ar mica and apatite fission track (AFT) ages constrain cooling and exhumation pathways from 350 to 60 °C and suggest that the dome cooled in three stages since the middle Miocene. 40Ar/39Ar white mica ages of 16-14 Ma suggest a first phase of rapid cooling and provide minimum estimates for the onset of dome exhumation. AFT ages between 10 and 8 Ma suggest that ductile fault displacement had ceased by then, and AFT track-length data from high-elevation samples indicate that the rate of cooling had decreased significantly. We interpret this to indicate decreased fault displacement along the Leo Pargil shear zone and possibly a transition to the Kaurik-Chango normal fault system between 10 and 6 Ma. AFT ages from lower elevations indicate accelerated cooling since the Pliocene that cannot be related to pure fault displacement, and therefore may reflect more pronounced regionally distributed and erosion-driven exhumation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-650
Number of pages16
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of America
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Dome
  • Exhumation
  • Extension
  • Geochronology
  • Himalaya
  • Tibet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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