Early onset and late acceleration of rapid exhumation in the Namche Barwa syntaxis, eastern Himalaya

Govin, Gwladys and van der Beek, Peter and Najman, Yani and Millar, Ian and Gemignani, Lorenzo and Huyghe, Pascale and Dupont-Nivet, Guillaume and Bernet, Matthias and Mark, Chris and Wijbrans, J. R. (2020) Early onset and late acceleration of rapid exhumation in the Namche Barwa syntaxis, eastern Himalaya. Geology, 48 (12). 1139–1143. ISSN 0091-7613

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The Himalayan syntaxes, characterized by extreme rates of rock exhumation co-located with major trans-orogenic rivers, figure prominently in the debate on tectonic versus erosional forcing of exhumation. Both the mechanism and timing of rapid exhumation of the Namche Barwa massif in the eastern syntaxis remain controversial. It has been argued that coupling between crustal rock advection and surface erosion initiated in the late Miocene (8-10 Ma). Recent studies, in contrast, suggest a Quaternary onset of rapid exhumation linked to a purely tectonic mechanism. We report new multisystem detrital thermochronology data from the most proximal Neogene clastic sediments downstream of Namche Barwa and use a thermo-kinematic model constrained by new and published data to explore its exhumation history. Modeling results show that exhumation accelerated to ~4 km/m.y. at ~8 Ma and to ~9 km/m.y. after ~2 Ma. This three-stage history reconciles apparently contradictory evidence for early and late onset of rapid exhumation, and suggests efficient coupling between tectonics and erosion since the late Miocene. Quaternary acceleration of exhumation is consistent with river-profile evolution, and may be linked to a Quaternary river-capture event.

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10 Jul 2020 10:10
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30 Apr 2024 00:09