Tertiary deformation and metamorphism SE of Tibet: The folded tiger-leap decollement of NW Yunnan, China

TitleTertiary deformation and metamorphism SE of Tibet: The folded tiger-leap decollement of NW Yunnan, China
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsLacassin R, Schärer U, Leloup P H, Arnaud N, Tapponnier P, Liu X, Zhang L
Date PublishedJun
ISBN Number0278-7407
Accession NumberWOS:A1996UU42800005

The Yulong-Haba Xue Shan range, in the northwestern part of Yunnan (China), is a large N-S antiform that folds the Paleozoic series of the Yangzi platform. The upper Yangzi River (Jinsha Jiang) has cut a 3500 m-deep valley (Hu Tiao gorge) across this antiform, thus exposing folded, bedding-parallel, ductile shear zones (decollements), with transport toward the SSW (in the present geographical coordinates). The large finite shear strain implies tens of kilometers of transport, pointing to the regional significance of these decollements. Rb/Sr radiometric dating of phlogopites that crystallized in marbles within the foliation planes yields the age of the metamorphic and deformation event (35.9 +/- 0.3 (2 sigma) Ma). The age derives from an internal Rb-Sr isochron, made on different size fractions of the same mineral, which provides a novel demonstration of the feasibility of such plots. Transport on the decollement and related shortening occurred prior to, or at the onset of, extrusion of Indochina along the Ailao Shan-Red River shear zone, approximate to 80 km west of the Yulong Shan. The Ar-39/Ar-40 age spectra of K-feldspar from the core of the Yulong Shan suggest uplift by antiformal folding around 17 Ma, as Indochina's extrusion came to an end. We infer that other large-scale Cenozoic decollements such as that exhumed in the Yulong Shan underlie some of the vast, folded areas that surround the eastern Himalayan syntaxis. Transport on such decollements, first toward the south and then toward the east, and folding above them, might have occurred during two principal shortening phases, whose ages bracket Indochina's escape toward the SE.