The nature and evolution of the Main Central Thrust: Structural and geochronological constraints from the Sikkim Himalaya, NE India

Dilip K. Mukhopadhyay, Sumit Chakraborty, Claudia Trepmann, Daniela Rubatto, Robert Anczkiewicz, Fred Gaidies, Somnath Dasgupta, Priyadarshi Chowdhury

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The Main Central Thrust (MCT) is a prominent continental-scale fault within the Himalaya. Its definition has been the topic of some debate in the literature. After a brief consideration of the state of discussion to clarify the definition we use in this work, we report features from the field- to the microstructural- scale of a particularly well-exposed section in Sikkim, NE India. The nature of the protoliths as well as the overlying and underlying rocks is characterized in terms of ε-Nd. The dates of motion on the fault are constrained using U–Pb geochronology of zircon and monazite from pegmatitic dikes that cross-cut the deformation fabric. It is found that the mechanism of deformation recorded in the fault zone rocks is different compared to that found in the overlying Greater Himalayan (GH) or the underlying Lesser Himalayan (LH) rocks. The GH and LH have different protolith characteristics as well. Combined with existing data on P–T history, dates of metamorphism, and cooling- and exhumation-rates of the GH and the LH, our measurements show that major motion on this fault occurred before 20 Ma at 450–700 °C but after peak metamorphism of rocks (750–800 °C) in this zone. Isolated events occurred in this zone as late as 11 Ma, possibly in the brittle domain. This underscores the pulsed nature of movement over an extended period on such major faults, and the related difficulties in dating fault movement, determination of the rates of movement, and designating a fault plane as in- or out-of-sequence within a propagating deformation front.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-463
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Dating fault movement
  • Greater Himalaya
  • Lesser Himalaya
  • Main Central Thrust
  • Metamorphism
  • Rates of thrusting

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