The Nature of Continental Rocks During Collisional Orogenesis and Tectonic Implications: Tibet
Committee ChairKapp, Paul
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation research addresses the tectonism of continental crust during ocean basin closure, suturing between continental landmasses, and collisional orogenesis. The new data and insights presented here were gathered through localized geologic investigations of the Tibetan Plateau of central Asia. This area of central Asia is an ideal location to study these fundamental tectonic processes because it has been the locus of numerous Tethyan ocean basins and terminal collisions between continents during Phanerozoic accretion of Gondwana-derived landmasses onto the southern margin of Eurasia. In this work, I propose, in many orogens, that high-pressure (HP) metamorphism of continental rocks may mark the early stages of the suturing process between continental landmasses rather than the culmination of suturing. This insight has been acquired from a geologic-, geochronologic-, and thermochronologic-based investigation of the HP-near ultrahigh-pressure bearing Triassic metasedimentary metamorphic belt in central Tibet. This work shows near synchronous continent-continent collisions between landmass adjacent to the Paleo-Tethys ocean prior to its final closure in Late Triassic time. In addition, this work shows that Mediterranean-style tectonics may be more widespread during accretionary tectonics than previously thought. A comparison between the distribution of the HP bearing metamorphic belt, autochthonous crystalline basement, and geophysical images of Tibet suggests that a Mesozoic tectonic feature may be controlling the structure and distribution of melt within the middle crust of the Tibetan Plateau. This concept underscores the importance of inherited tectonic frameworks on the evolution of orogenic plateaus. Work in southwest Tibet, along the India-Asia suture zone, highlights the complex behavior of continental crust during collisional orogenesis. This work identifies previously undocumented magmatism, crustal antexis, and high-grade metamorphism along the India-Asia suture. In this work I attribute these observations to the initial interactions between Indian, Asian, and subducting Neo-Tethys oceanic lithosphere.