Description: The spatial association of intracontinental thrusting and inverted metamorphism, recognized in the Himalaya more than a century ago, has inspired continuing efforts to identify their causal relationship. Perhaps the best known sequence of inverted metamorphism is that found immediately beneath the Himalayan Main Central Thrust (MCT), generally thought to have been active during the Early Miocene. It has been widely assumed that the pattern of inverted metamorphism also developed at that time. Using a new approach, in situ Th-Pb dating of monazite included in garnet, we have discovered that the peak metamorphic recrystallization recorded in the footwall of the MCT fault occurred at ca. 5 Ma. The apparent inverted metamorphism resulted from activation of a broad shear zone beneath the MCT zone which juxtaposed two right-way-up metamorphic sequences. Recognition of this remarkably youthful phase of metamorphism resolves outstanding problems in Himalayan tectonics, such as why the MCT (and not the more recently initiated thrusts) marks the break in slope of the present day mountain range, and transcends others, such as the need for exceptional conditions to explain Himalayan anatexis.
Date: January 1, 1997
Creator: Harrison, T.M.; Ryerson, F.J.; LeFort, P. & Yin, A. Lovera, O.M.
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