Gangdese retroarc thrust belt and foreland basin deposits in the Damxung area, southern Tibet

Alex Pullen, Paul Kapp, George E. Gehrels, Peter G. DeCelles, Edwin H. Brown, J. Matthew Fabijanic, Lin Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Geologic mapping and U-Pb detrital zircon geochronologic studies of (meta)sedimentary rocks in the Damxung area (∼90 km north of Lhasa) of the southern Lhasa terrane in Tibet provide new insights into the history of deformation and clastic sedimentation prior to late Cenozoic extension. Cretaceous nonmarine clastic rocks ∼10 km southeast of Damxung are exposed as structural windows in the footwall of a thrust fault (the Damxung thrust) that carries Paleozoic strata in the hanging wall. To the north of Damxung in the southern part of the northern Nyainqentanglha Range (NNQTL), metaclastic rocks of previously inferred Paleozoic age are shown to range in depositional age from Late Cretaceous to Eocene. The metaclastic rocks regionally dip southward and are interpreted to have been structurally buried in the footwall of the Damxung thrust prior to being tectonized during late Cenozoic transtension. Along the northern flank of the NNQTL, Lower Eocene syncontractional redbeds were deposited in a triangle zone structural setting. All detrital zircon samples of Cretaceous-Eocene strata in the Damxung area include Early Cretaceous grains that were likely sourced from the Gangdese arc to the south. We suggest that the that newly recognized Late Cretaceous to Early Eocene (meta)clastic deposits and thrust faults represent the frontal and youngest part of a northward directed and propagating Gangdese retroarc thrust belt and foreland basin system that led to significant crustal thickening and elevation gain in southern Tibet prior to India-Asian collision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-336
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Aug 25 2008


  • Gangdese arc
  • Lhasa terrane
  • Plateau formation
  • Retroarc thrust belt
  • Tibet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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