Sedimentology, provenance and geochronology of the Miocene Qiuwu Formation: Implication for the uplift history of Southern Tibet

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Abstract

Located on the south of the Gangdese, the Qiuwu Formation has traditionally been considered as Eocene coal-bearing clastic sediments consisting of sandstone, mudstone and conglomerate, unconformably on top of Gangdese batholith. However, its precise age and depositional environment remain ambiguous. Here, we present a newly measured stratigraphic section near the Ngamring County, western Xigaze. Detrital zircon U–Pb ages were also applied to trace the provenance of sediments and to constrain the maximum depositional age of the Qiuwu Formation. Sedimentary facies analyses indicate subaqueous fan and alluvial fan depositional environments. Clast composition of the conglomerate is dominated by magmatic rocks at the lower part, while chert and mafic detritus occur in the upper part, suggesting a southern source. Sandstone modal analyses indicate that the compositions of quartz, feldspar and lithic grains changed from transitional arc to dissected arc, implying the unroofing of the Gangdese arc. Detrital zircon U–Pb ages of the Qiuwu Formation are compared with those from Gangdese magmatic rocks and Yarlung-Zangbo ophiolites, suggesting that the Gangdese arc is a main source of the Qiuwu detritus and that the southern source played a role during the later stage. The major peak of detrital zircon ages is at 45–55 Ma, which corresponds to Linzizong volcanic rocks in southern Gangdese arc. The weighted mean age of the five youngest zircons from the lower part of the section is 21.0 ± 2.2 Ma, suggesting that the Qiuwu Formation was deposited in early Miocene, coeval with other conglomerates exposed along the southern margin of Gangdese. Combining new observations with previously published data, we propose that the provenance of the Qiuwu Formation had shifted from a single northern source to double sources from both the north and the south. Activities of Great Counter Thrust were primarily responsible for the shift by making the south area a high elevation to provide sediments for the Qiuwu Formation.

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Zhang, J., Dai, J., Qian, X., Ge, Y., & Wang, C. (2017). Sedimentology, provenance and geochronology of the Miocene Qiuwu Formation: Implication for the uplift history of Southern Tibet. Geoscience Frontiers, 8(4), 823–839. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gsf.2016.05.010

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