Cretaceous-Tertiary geology of the Gangdese Arc in the Linzhou area, southern Tibet

Shundong He, Paul Kapp, Peter G. DeCelles, George E. Gehrels, Matthew Heizler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

210 Scopus citations


Knowledge of the Cretaceous-Tertiary history of upper crustal shortening and magmatism in Tibet is fundamental to placing constraints on when and how the Tibetan plateau formed. In the Lhasa terrane of southern Tibet, the widely exposed angular unconformity beneath uppermost Cretaceous-lower Tertiary volcanic-bearing strata of the Linzizong Formation provides an excellent geologic and time marker to distinguish between deformation that occurred before vs. during the Indo-Asian collision. In the Linzhou area, located ∼ 30 km north of the city of Lhasa, a > 3-km-thick section of the Linzizong Formation lies unconformably on Cretaceous and older rocks that were shortened by both northward- and southward-verging structures during the Late Cretaceous. The Linzizong Formation dips northward in the footwall of a north-dipping thrust system that involves Triassic-Jurassic strata and a granite intrusion in the hanging wall. U-Pb zircon geochronologic studies show that the Linzizong Formation ranges in age from 69 Ma to at least 47 Ma and that the hanging wall granite intrusion crystallized at ∼ 52 Ma, coeval with dike emplacement into footwall Cretaceous strata. 40Ar/39Ar thermochronologic studies suggest slow cooling of the granite between 49 and 42 Ma, followed by an episode of accelerated cooling to upper crustal levels beginning at ∼ 42 Ma. The onset of rapid cooling was coeval with the cessation of voluminous arc magmatism in southern Tibet and is interpreted be a consequence of either (1) Tertiary thrusting in this region or (2) regional rock uplift and erosion following removal of overthickened Gangdese arc lower crust and upper mantle or break-off of the Neo-Tethyan oceanic slab.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-37
Number of pages23
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Apr 2 2007


  • Gangdese Arc
  • Lhasa terrane
  • Linzizong Formation
  • Tibet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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