Mesozoic and Cenozoic Cooling History of the Qiangtang Block, Northern Tibet, China: New Constraints from Apatite and Zircon Fission Track Data


This study used a new set of zircon and apatite fission track ages to quantitatively document the tectonic evolution and cooling histories of the Qiangtang block of the central Tibetan Plateau. The results indicate that the Qiangtang block underwent three cooling stages at ~148 - 73, ~50 - 20, and ~20 - 0 Ma. The three-stage cooling history and tectonic exhumation were controlled by the closure of the Bangong-Nujiang Suture during the Late Jurassic-Late Cretaceous, the India-Asia collision in the Paleogene, and the underthrusting of the India Plate during the Late Cenozoic. In addition to revealing the Late Jurassic-Late Cretaceous cooling events, the annealing patterns of the zircon fission track samples indicate different burial depths, which may help identify the Jurassic basin characteristics of the Qiangtang block. The apatite fission track (AFT) ages range from 60 ± 5 Ma to 26 ± 3 Ma, with a mean age of 44 Ma. These ages indicate that the Cenozoic exhumation of the Qiangtang block may have started in the Eocene. Inverse modeling of the AFT data shows that the Qiangtang block had a relatively slow cooling rate of approximately 0.5 - 1°C Myr-1 from 50 to 20 Ma. After ~20 Ma, most of the samples show evidence for a rapid cooling stage with a cooling rate of 4 - 6°C Myr-1.

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