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Reconsidering the uplift history and peneplanation of the northern Lhasa terrane, Tibet

Ingalls, Miquela and Rowley, David B. and Currie, Brian S. and Colman, Albert S. (2020) Reconsidering the uplift history and peneplanation of the northern Lhasa terrane, Tibet. American Journal of Science, 320 (6). pp. 479-532. ISSN 0002-9599.

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The elevation history of the Tibetan Plateau promises insight into the mechanisms and dynamics that develop and sustain high topography over tens of millions of years, as well as the contribution of uplift-related erosive flux to Cenozoic global cooling. The elevation history of the center and northern margin of the plateau have been historically less well-constrained than the southern margin. A diverse suite of techniques, each with their own biases and uncertainties, yield discrepant mid-Cenozoic elevation estimates (0–5 km). We reconstruct Paleogene to Miocene elevations of the Lunpola basin on the northern Lhasa terrane, the southernmost crustal block of the Tibetan Plateau, using stable isotope paleoaltimetry and clumped-isotope paleothermometry on lacustrine and pedogenic carbonates, integrated with previously published compound-specific n-alkane-derived hydrogen isotopes. Paleo-elevation estimates for the Lunpola basin (∼3.1–4.7 km) demonstrate that the northern edge of the Lhasa Block attained high elevation prior to ∼24 Ma and potentially by the Early Eocene (<48 Ma). Our results allow for the possibility that the entire Lhasa Block was composed of extremely thick continental crust at the initiation of India-Asia collision, rather than restricting the extent of thick crust to the Linzizong volcanic arc (“Lhasaplano” model) or Gangdese Mountains, and also refutes studies invoking a low elevation interpretation based on higher oxygen and compound-specific δD isotope values. Better constraints on depositional ages in the Lunpola basin are needed to refine the early Cenozoic elevation history along the Bangong-Nujiang suture zone. Finally, we posit that interpretations of proxy data can be biased by incomplete or selective sampling, and propose multi-proxy, intrinsically cross-disciplinary studies to resolve inconsistent interpretations from otherwise unrelated proxies.

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Ingalls, Miquela0000-0002-7451-2944
Additional Information:© 2020 American Journal of Science. MI thanks Chi Ma for assistance with SEM-EBSD imaging and analyses, and John Eiler and Nami Kitchen for aiding in clumped isotope analyses and data interpretations at Caltech. Funding for this work was provided by NSF EAR 9973222, EAR 0609782, EAR 0923831, and EAR 1111274 to DR, and a Barr Fellowship from the Geological and Planetary Sciences Division of Caltech to MI. The authors would like to thank Majie Fan, Alex Lechler, Michael Hren, and an anonymous reviewer for their productive reviews.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary SciencesUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:paleoaltimetry, tectonics, oxygen isotopes, carbonate clumped isotopes, proxy assessment, Tibetan Plateau, Lunpola basin
Issue or Number:6
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201009-124909537
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Official Citation:Miquela Ingalls, David B. Rowley, Brian S. Currie, and Albert S. Colman. Reconsidering the uplift history and peneplanation of the northern Lhasa terrane, Tibet. Am J Sci June 2020 320:479-532; doi:10.2475/06.2020.01
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105967
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:09 Oct 2020 20:41
Last Modified:09 Oct 2020 20:41

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