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Publication Detail
Insights into the patterns and locations of erosion in the Himalaya - A combined fission-track and in situ Sm-Nd isotopic study of detrital apatite
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Journal Article
  • Authors:
    Foster GL, Carter A
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    407, 418
  • Journal:
    Earth and Planetary Science Letters
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
Understanding the role that climate, erosion and tectonics play in determining the mean relief, elevation and general form of a mountain range over time has become the focus of much recent research in the field of tectonic geomorphology. A crucial constraint in these studies is the long-term exhumation rate, which is increasingly being examined using detrital minerals from the sedimentary rock record that represent the eroded remnants of the orogen. A classic field area of such studies is the Himalayan orogen - the Earth's largest mountain range. We describe here a novel approach that uses the in situ analysis of Nd isotopes by laser ablation multicollector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry of fission-track dated apatite grains to unambiguously tie them to their source regions. We demonstrate the capability of this new approach on several modern and Holocene river sand samples from the Himalayan orogen and determine, because of the large isotopic differences in the constituent tectonostratigraphic units, both the location and magnitude of long-term erosion. In agreement with previous studies we are able to show that in the Central and Eastern Himalaya long-term denudation is focussed within the High Himalayan Crystalline Series (HHCS) at average rates of ∼ 2 mm/yr. Average long-term rates are similar in the Western Himalaya sampled by the Indus River and largely reflect erosional denudation of the Western Indian Himalaya and the Western Syntaxis (the Nanga Parbat Haramosh Massif and South Karakoram Metamorphic Complex). Notably, the Asian continent supplies significantly more apatites to the mouth of the Indus than they do to the Bengal delta. The ability to reconstruct the patterns of long-term erosion in the Himalaya using detrital apatites from a few samples collected from major transverse drainages provides confidence in the utility of this approach to examine the locations and magnitude of long-term erosion in the past. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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