Late Triassic paleogeographic reconstruction along the Neo-Tethyan Ocean margins, southern Tibet

Fulong Cai, Lin Ding, Andrew K. Laskowski, Paul Kapp, Houqi Wang, Qiang Xu, Liyun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Sandstone petrographic and U-Pb detrital zircon analyses of Upper Triassic sedimentary rocks from the northern margin of India (Tethyan Himalaya Sequence) and southern margin of Eurasia (Lhasa terrane) provide new constraints on the Mesozoic paleogeography of Neo-Tethyan Ocean basins. The Upper Triassic Nieru Formation of the Tethyan Himalaya Sequence (THS) near Lazi city (~29°N, 87.5°E) is dominated by Indian-affinity, Precambrian detrital zircons, which are typical of the majority of the THS. However, the Upper Triassic Langjiexue Formation of the THS exposed to the east (at 90-93°E longitude) includes significant populations of Permian to Early Jurassic (291-184 Ma) detrital zircons for which there is no known Indian source. In addition, the Upper Triassic Nieru Formation near Kangma town (~28.5°N, 90°E), located ~200 km to the southeast of Lazi city, yielded detrital zircon age spectra that are similar to those of Langjiexue Formation. Based on detrital zircon age spectra comparisons, we propose that both the Langjiexue and Nieru formations were derived from continental crustal fragments that were adjacent to the northwestern margin of Australia. Furthermore, we suggest that these THS units, and age-equivalent strata in Northwest Australia, West Sulawesi, Timor and West Papua, comprised a Late Triassic submarine fan along the northern Australian shelf. The Upper Triassic Mailonggang Formation in the southern Lhasa terrane (35 km northeast of Lhasa city, ~30°N, 91.5°E) is dominated by Permian detrital zircons, which were likely derived from proximal Lhasa terrane sources. The Mailonggang Formation differs from all age-equivalent strata in the Tethyan Himalaya; therefore we interpret that it was separated from Greater India by the Neo-Tethyan Ocean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-114
Number of pages10
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Greater India
  • Neo-Tethyan margins
  • Paleogeography
  • Southern Tibet
  • Triassic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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