It is generally believed that the extrusion of SE Tibet was bounded by the dextral Gaoligong and the sinistral Ailaoshan-Red River strike-slip shear zones from the Oligocene to early Miocene. This study integrates field mapping, structural analysis and geochronology in western Yunnan (China), where foliated Precambrian basement rocks and late Cretaceous to early Eocene plutons are exposed to the west of the Gaoligong shear zone. We found that late Eocene to early Miocene flat-lying ductile shear zones were kinematically related to steeply dipping strike-slip shear zones. Four elongated gneiss domes (Donghe, Guyong, Yingjiang and Sudian) are cored by high-grade metamorphic rocks and pre-kinematic granite plutons, and bounded by top-to-NE detachments and NE-trending dextral strike-slip shear zones. Zircon U-Pb ages from LA-ICP-MS analysis and 40Ar/39Ar ages of micas and hornblende demonstrate that the flat-lying Donghe Detachment (>35-15Ma) and the Nabang dextral strike-slip shear zone (41-19Ma) were sites of prolonged, mostly coeval ductile deformation from amphibolite to greenschist facies metamorphism. The Gaoligong shear zone experienced dextral shearing under similar metamorphic conditions between 32 and 10Ma. Consistent 40Ar/39Ar ages of hornblende from the three shear zones indicate their contemporaneity at mid-crustal depth, causing the rapid exhumation and SW-ward extrusion of the Tengchong Terrane. The strain geometry and shear zone kinematics in the Tengchong Terrane are interpreted with folding of the anisotropic lithosphere around a vertical axis, i.e., the northeast corner of the Indian Plate since 41Ma. The newly discovered NE-trending Sudian, Yingjiang, and Lianghe strike-slip shear zones are subordinate ductile faults accommodating the initially rapid clockwise rotation of the Tengchong Terrane. The detachments caused mid-crustal decoupling and faster SW-ward extrusion below the sedimentary cover, whereas the strike-slip shear zones accommodated extrusion and clockwise rotation of the Tengchong Terrane around the proto-Eastern Himalayan syntaxis since the late Eocene.
Xu, Z., Wang, Q., Cai, Z., Dong, H., Li, H., Chen, X., … Burg, J. P. (2015). Kinematics of the Tengchong Terrane in SE Tibet from the late Eocene to early Miocene: Insights from coeval mid-crustal detachments and strike-slip shear zones. Tectonophysics, 665, 127–148. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tecto.2015.09.033