Geologische Rundschau

, 85:723 | Cite as

Stratigraphy of the upper cretaceous and lower tertiary strata in the Tethyan Himalayas of Tibet (Tingri area, China)

  • H. Willems
  • Z. Zhou
  • B. Zhang
  • K. -U. Gräfe
Original Paper


The 1500-m-thick marine strata of the Tethys Himalaya of the Zhepure Mountain (Tingri, Tibet) comprise the Upper Albian to Eocene and represent the sedimentary development of the passive northern continental margin of the Indian plate. Investigations of foraminifera have led to a detailed biozonation which is compared with the west Tethyan record. Five stratigraphic units can be distinguished: The Gamba group (Upper Albian - Lower Santonian) represents the development from a basin and slope to an outer-shelf environment. In the following Zhepure Shanbei formation (Lower Santonian - Middle Maastrichtian), outer-shelf deposits continue. Pebbles in the top layers point to beginning redeposition on a continental slope. Intensified redeposition continues within the Zhepure Shanpo formation (Middle Maastrichtian - Lower Paleocene). The series is capped by sandstones of the Jidula formation (Danian) deposited from a seaward prograding delta plain. The overall succession of these units represents a sea-level high at the Cenomanian/Turonian boundary followed, from the Turonian to Danian, by an overall shallowing-upward megasequence. This is followed by a final transgression — regression cycle during the Paleocene and Eocene, documented in the Zhepure Shan formation (?Upper Danian - Lutetian) and by Upper Eocene continental deposits. The section represents the narrowing and closure of the Tethys as a result of the convergence between northward-drifting India and Eurasia. The plate collision started in the Lower Maastrichtian and caused rapid changes in sedimentation patterns affected by tectonic subsidence and uplift. Stronger subsidence and deposition took place from the Middle Maastrichtian to the Lower Paleocene. The final closure of remnant Tethys in the Tingri area took place in the Lutetian.

Key words

Biostratigraphy Lower Tertiary Indian shelf Upper Cretaceous Foraminifers Lithostratigraphy Passive continental margin Tethys Himalaya Tibet 


  1. Academia Sinica (1980) Organizing Committee, Symposium on Qing-Xizang (Tibet) Plateau: a scientific guidebook to South Xizang (Tibet), pp 1–104, 1 appendix: geologicial map of Lhasa-Nyalam area, Xizang (Tibet), The People's Republic of China; Scale: 1:1 500000. Academia Sinica, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  2. Bally AW, Allen CR, Geyer RB et al. (1980) Notes on the geology of Tibet and adjacent areas. Report of the American Plate Tectonics Delegation to the People's Republic of China. U.S. Geol Surv Open File Report 80–501, pp 1–100, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  3. Bassoulet J-P, Colchen M, Mouterde R (1977) Esquisse paléographique et essai sur l'évolution gódynamique de l'Himalaya. Mém h sér Soc géol France 8:213–214Google Scholar
  4. Bassoulet JP, Colchen M, Mascle G, Wang Naiwen (1984) Les ensembles sédimentaires de la zone du Tsangpo (Lhazè, Lhasa, Linzhu). In: Mercier JL, Li Guangcen (s) Mission Franco-Chinoise au Tibet 1980, Paris (CNRS), pp 113–153Google Scholar
  5. Birkelund T, Hancock JM, Rawson PF, Remane J et al. (1984) Cretaceous stage boundaries — proposals. Bull Geol Soc Denmark 33:3–20Google Scholar
  6. Camoin G, Bellion Y, Dercourt J, Giuraud R, Lucas L, Poisson A, Ricou LE, Vrielynck B (1993) Late Maastrichtian (69.5 to 65 Ma). In: Dercourt J, Ricou LE, Vrielynck B(eds) Atlas. Tethys palaeoenvironmental maps. Gauthier-Villars, Paris, pp. 17–196Google Scholar
  7. Caron M (1985) Cretaceous planktic forminifera. In: Bolli HM, Saunders JB, Perch-Nielsen K (eds) Plankton stratigraphy. Cambridge Earth Sci. Ser. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 17–86Google Scholar
  8. Code-Committee der Stratigraphischen Kommission der DUGW (1977) Stratigraphische Rechtlinien. Emphfehlungen der stratigraphischen Kommission der Deutschen Union der Geoloischen Wissenschaften zu stratigraphischen Verfahrensweisen. Newsl Stratigr 6 (3):131–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fleury J-J (1980) Les zones de Gavrovo—Tripolitza et du Punde-Olonos (Grèce continentale et Péloponnèse du Nord). Evolution d'une plate-forme et d'un bassin dans leur cadre alpin, vols 1 and 2. Soc Géol Nord 4:1–640Google Scholar
  10. Gaetani M, Garzanti E (1991) Multicyclic history of the northern India continental margin (Northwestern Himalaya). Am Assoc Petrol Geol Bull 75(9):1427–1446Google Scholar
  11. Gannser LF (1964) Geology of the Himalayas. Interscience Publishers, London New York, pp 1–289Google Scholar
  12. Gräfe K-U, Wiedmann J (1993) Sequence stratigraphy in the Upper Cretaceous of the Basco-Cantabrian basin (northern Spain). Geol Rundsch 82:327–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hao Yichun, Wan Xiaoqiao (1985) The marine Cretaceous and Tertiary strata of Tingri, Xizang (Tibet). Contr Geol QinghaiXizang (Tibet) Plateau 17:227–332Google Scholar
  14. Hayden HH (1907) The geology of the provinces Tsang and Ü in Central Tibet. Geol Sur India Mem 36 (2):122–201Google Scholar
  15. Hedberg HD (ed) (1976) International stratigraphic guide. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Heron AM (1922) Geological results of the Mount Everest reconnaissance expedition. Rec Geol Surv India 54 (2):215–234Google Scholar
  17. Hottinger L (1960) Recherches sur les Alvéolines du Paléocène et de l'eocène. Schweiz Paläont Abh 75/76:1–240Google Scholar
  18. Hottinger L, Drobne K (1988) Alveolines Tertiaires: Quelques problèmes liés à la conception de l'espèce. Rev Paléobiol, vol spec 2 (Benthos 86):665–681Google Scholar
  19. Jin Chuntai, He Huaizi (1962) The stratigraphy — Cenozoic (Lower Tertiary) Zhepure group. In: The geology of the Jolmo Lungma region. The Report of the Scientific Expedition in the Jolmo Lungma Region, Beijing (Science Press). (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  20. Kapellos C, Schaub H (1973) Zur Korrelation von Biozonierungen mit Grossforaminiferen und Nannoplankton im Paläogen der Pyrenäen. Eclogae Geol Helv 66 (3):687–737Google Scholar
  21. Kleiber GW (1991) Nummuliten der paläogenen Tethys in Axialschnitten. Tübinger Micropaläont Mitt 9:1–143Google Scholar
  22. Lamolda MA, Proto-Decima F (1986) The Turonian-Coniacian boundary in Ollogoyen (Basque Country); Foraminifers and Nannoplankton. Cretaceous Res 7:63–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Liu G (1992) Permian to Eocene sediments and Indian passive margin evolution in the Tibetan Himalayas. Tübinger Geowiss Arbeiten A 13:1–249Google Scholar
  24. Liu G, Einsele G (1994) Sedimentary history of the Tethyan basin in the Tibetan Himalayas. Geol Rundsch 83:32–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Longoria JF, Vonfeldt AE (1991) Taxonomy, phylogenetics and biochronology of single-keeled globotruncanids (Genus Globotruncanita Reiss). Micropaleontology 37 (3):197–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Luterbacher HP (1964) Studies on some Globorotalia from the Paleocene and Lower Eocene of the Central Apennines. Eclogae Geol Helv 57 (2):631–730Google Scholar
  27. Luterbacher HP, Premoli-Silva I (1962) Biostratigrafia del limite Cretaceo-Terziario nell'Appennino. Riv Ital Paleont 70 (1):67–128Google Scholar
  28. Mu An-tze, Wen Shi-hsuan, Wang Yi-kang, Chang Ping-kao [Zhang Bing-gao], Yin Jixiang (1973) Stratigraphy of the Mount Jolmo Lungma region in southern Tibet, China Sci Sinica 16 (1):96–111Google Scholar
  29. Pemberton SG, Frey RW (1984) Ichnology of storm-influenced shallow marine sequence: cardium formation (Upper Cretaceous) at Seebe, Alberta. In: Stott DF, Glass DJ (eds) The Mesozoic of Middle North America. Can Soc Petrol Geol Mem 9:281–304Google Scholar
  30. Pessagno EA Jr (1967) Upper Cretaceous planktonic foraminifera from the western Gulf Coastal plain. Palaeontogr Am 5 (37):245–386Google Scholar
  31. Rad U von, Exon NF, Haq BU (1992) Rift-to-drift history of the Wombat Plateau, Northwest Australia: Triassic to Tertiary Leg 122 results. In: Rad U von, Haq BU et al. (eds) Proc ODP Sci Res 122:765–799Google Scholar
  32. Robaszynski F (1995) Preliminary data for the Campanian-Maastrichtian boundary in Central Tunisia (Tethyan Realm). Abstracts, Second Int Symp Cretaceous Stage Boundaries, Brussels, 8–16 Sept 1995, p. 102Google Scholar
  33. Robaszynski F, Caron M (Coord) (1979) Atlas de foraminifères planctoniques du Crétacé Moyen (Mer Boréale et Téthys). Cahiers Micropaléont (1–2):1–185, 1–181Google Scholar
  34. Robaszynski F, Caron M, Dupuis Ch, Amédro F, Gonzáles Donoso JM, Linares D, Hardenbol J, Gartner S, Calandra F, Deloffre R (1990) A tentative integrated stratigraphy in the Turonian of Central Tunisia: formations, zones and sequential stratigraphy in the Kalaat Senan area. Bull Centres Rech Explor-Prod Elf-Aquitaine 14 (1):213–384Google Scholar
  35. Robaszynski F, Caron M, Gonz'ales Donoso JM, Wonders AH (eds) (1984) Atlas of late Cretaceous globotruncanids. Rev Micropaléont 26 (3–4):145–305Google Scholar
  36. Schaub H (1981) Nummulites et Assilines de la Téthys paléogène. Taxonomie, phylogenèse et biostratigraphie. Schweiz Paläont Abh 104-106:1–236Google Scholar
  37. Schaub H (1992) The Campo section (NE Spain), a Tethyan parastratotype of the Cuisian. N Jahrb Geol Paläont Abh 186 (1–2):63–70Google Scholar
  38. Sengör AMC, Altinev D, Cin A, Ustaömer T, Hsü KJ (1988) Original assembly of the Tethyside orogenic collage at the expense of Gondwanaland. In: Audley-Charles MG, Hallame A (eds) Gondwana and Tethys. Geol Soc Spec Publ 37:119–181Google Scholar
  39. Sliter WV (1989) Biostratigraphic zonation for Cretaceous planktonic foraminifers examined in thin section. J Foram Res 19 (1):1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sun Dong-Li, Zhang Bing-gao (1983) Aspects of the marine Cretaceous of China. Cretaceous Res 4:145–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tapponier P, Mercier JL, Proust F, Andrieux J, Armijo R, Bassoulet JP, Brunel M, Burg JP, Colchen M, Dupré B, Girardeau J, Marcoux J, Mascle G, Matte P, Nicolas A, Li Tingdong, Xiao Xuchang, Chang Chenfa, Lin Paoyu, Li Guangcen, Wang Naiwen, Chen Guoming, Han Tonglin, Wang Xibin, Den Wanming, Zhen Haixiang, Sheng Huaibin, Cao Yongong, Zhou Ji, Qui Hongrong (1981) The Tibetan side of the India Eurasia collision. Nature 294:405–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Toumarkine M, Luterbacher H (1985) Paleocene and Eocene planktic foraminifera. In: Bolli HM, Saunders JB, Perch-Nielsen K (eds) Plankton stratigraphy. Cambridge Earth Sci Ser, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 87–154Google Scholar
  43. Wan Xiaoqiao (1991) Albian-Campanian (Cretaceous) plankticforaminiferal stratigraphy in southern Xizang (Tibet). Stratigraphy and paleontology of China, 1:165–169Google Scholar
  44. Wan Xiaoqiao, Burnett J, Gallagher L (1993) A preliminary correlation between the Cretaceous calcareous nannofloras and foraminifera of southern Tibet. Rev Esp Micropaleontol 25 (1):41–56Google Scholar
  45. Wang Yi-gang, Sun Dong-li, He Guo-xiong (1980) New advances in the stratigraphy of the Chinese part of the Himalayas. Dicengxue Zazhi (J Stratigr) 4 (1):55–59Google Scholar
  46. Weiss W (1995) Age assignments of I arger f oraminiferal a ssemblages of Maastrichtian to Eocene Age in northern Pakistan. Zitteliana 20:223–252Google Scholar
  47. Wen Shixuan (1974) Stratigraphy of the Mount Jolmo Lungma region Cretaceous, Tertiary. In: A report of the scientific expedition in the Mount Jolmo Lungma region 1966–1968. Geology. Science Press, Beijing, pp 148–231Google Scholar
  48. Wen Shixuan (1987a) Cretaceous System. In: Stratigraphy of the Mount Qomolangma Region. Science Press, Beijing, pp 130–159Google Scholar
  49. Wen Shixuan (1987b) Tertiary system. In: Stratigraphy of the Mount Qomolangma region. Science Press, Beijing, pp 160–180Google Scholar
  50. Wen Shixuan, Zhang Bing-gao, Wang Yi-gang et al. (1980) Sedimentary development and formation of stratigraphic region in Xizang. In: Proc Symp Qinghai Xizang (Tibet) Plateau. Academia Sinica, Beijing, pp 119–130Google Scholar
  51. Willems H (1993) Sedimentary history of the Tibetan Tethys Himalaya continental shelf in South Tibet (Gamba, Tingri) during Upper Cretaceous and Lower Tertiary (Xizang Autonomous region, PR China). Ber FB Geowiss Univ Bremen 38:49–183Google Scholar
  52. Willems H, Zhang Binggao (1993a) Cretaceous and Lower Tertiary sediments of the Tethys Himalaya in the area of Gamba (South Tibet, PR China). Ber FB Geowiss Univ Bremen 38:3–27Google Scholar
  53. Willems H, Zhang Binggao (1993b) Cretaceous and Lower Tertiary sediments of the Tibetan Tethys Himalaya in the area of Tingri (South Tibet, PR China). Ber FB Geowiss Univ Bremen 38:29–47Google Scholar
  54. Wonders AH (1979) Middle and Late Cretaceous pelagic sediments of the Umbrian sequence in the Central Apennines. I + II. Konin Nederl Akad Wetensch Proc (B) 82:171–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wonders AH (1980) Middle and late Cretaceous planktonic foraminifera of the western Mediterranean area. Utrecht Micropal Bull 24:1–136Google Scholar
  56. Wonders AH (1992) Cretaceous planktonic foraminiferal biostratigraphy, Leg 122, Exmouth Plateau, Australia. In: Rad U von, Haq BU et al. (eds) Proc ODP Sci Res 122:587–599Google Scholar
  57. Yang Zunyi, Wu Sunbao (1964) The Late Jurassic Early Tertiary marine strata and faunas in southern Tibet. [In: Wen Shi-xuan (1974)]Google Scholar
  58. Yin Jixiang (1988) The evolutionary outline on stratigraphy and geology of southern Tethyan domain in the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibet) Plateau. Bull Inst Geol 3:1–25 (in Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  59. Zhang Bing-gao (1979) The Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary of southern Tibet in China. In: Christensen WK, Birkelund T (eds) Proc Symp Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary events. University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, pp 258–262Google Scholar
  60. Zhang Bing-gao (1980) Latest marine sediments in Xizang and process of Early Tertiary regression. In: Proc Symp QinghaiXizang (Tibet) Plateau. Academia Sinica, Beijing, pp 329–332Google Scholar
  61. Zhang Bing-gao, Geng Liang-Yu (1983) A further knowledge of the Early Tertiary strata in southern Xizang. J Stratr 7 (4)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Willems
    • 1
  • Z. Zhou
    • 2
  • B. Zhang
    • 2
  • K. -U. Gräfe
    • 1
  1. 1.Fachbereich 5, Geowissenschaften, Universität BremenGermany
  2. 2.Nanjing Institute of Geology and PalaeontologyAcademia SinicaNanjingChina

Personalised recommendations