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Submagmatic flow to solid-state ductile deformation of the Karakoram Batholith, India: insights into syn-tectonic cooling and exhumation

Abstract

Granitic magmatism is considered an essential mechanism for crustal recycling in the rapidly accreted crust. Mode of emplacement and ascent of granitic magma, together with the exhumation of granites, especially along plate margins, hold a vital clue to the Earth’s thermomechanical workings. The present study investigates the role of ductile deformation in the exhumation of the granitic rocks of the Karakoram batholith (KB), north of the Shyok Suture Zone (SSZ), NW Trans-Himalaya. Textural and thermobarometric studies suggest that crystallization of the KB initiated at ~ 700–800 °C and ~ 4.2–7.5 kb. Microstructures of feldspar and quartz pertaining to temperatures > 700 °C together with the late crystallization of muscovite evince submagmatic flow. Muscovite-rich domains typically exhibit microstructures indicating temperatures < 650 °C. Aligned mica, along with penetrative grain boundary migration and moderately strong crystallographic preferred orientation in quartz, represents the highest deformation intensity that probably prevailed during the initial stages of collision along the SSZ. On the other hand, randomly oriented muscovites that crystallized following peak deformation intensity occur exclusively in micro-domains with polygonal quartz grains. Phase transformation of micas to chlorite occurred at ~ 280–400 °C, during which deformation progressed by minor GBM at relatively slower rates. This study implies that submagmatic flow followed by subsolidus solid-state ductile deformation was significant in the exhumation of the granites from a depth of ~ 19–28 to ~ 5.5–9.5 km. Temperature estimates, coupled with geochronological data, yield average cooling rates of ~ 11–18 °C/Ma from ~ 110–85 Ma that gradually decreased to ~ 1.8 °C/Ma after ~ 85 Ma.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by a Science & Engineering Research Board grant (EMR/2014/000555) to Vikas Adlakha and funding from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (CAP-Himalaya, Activity 7) to Vikas Adlakha and Subham Bose. The authors thank Editor-in-Chief Ulrich Riller, Robert Miller, and an anonymous reviewer for the encouragement and constructive comments on the previous versions of this manuscript that significantly improved this article. Authors highly acknowledge the Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Chhutapa Phuntsog Dorjay, Skalzang Namgyal, and Thinless Gyachho for their help during fieldwork in the India-China border region. Koushik Sen is thanked for extending laboratory facilities. The authors thank the Director, WIHG for constant encouragement.

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Fig. A1 (i) Qualitative CPO studies of quartz from Zone 2 (sample 17): a Photomicrograph showing high wavelength sutures on the grain boundaries of quartz. b Photomicrograph of the micro-domain in (a) upon insertion of gypsum accessory plate. c Photomicrograph of the micro-domain in (a) upon 90 º rotation of the stage. d Photomicrograph of the micro-domain in (c) upon insertion of gypsum accessory plate. e Photomicrograph of another micro-domain of sample 17 that exhibits high wavelength sutures on the grain boundaries of quartz. f Photomicrograph of the micro-domain in (e) upon insertion of gypsum accessory plate. g Photomicrograph of the micro-domain in (e) upon 90 º rotation of the stage. h Photomicrograph of the micro-domain in (g) upon insertion of gypsum accessory plate. Grey shaded portions in b, d, f & h hide other phases, to focus on the quartz grains only. All the photomicrographs (a–h) were acquired in 20x magnification. (ii) Qualitative CPO studies of quartz from Zone 3 (Sample 13): a Photomicrograph showing polygonal grains of quartz. b Photomicrograph of the micro-domain in (a) upon insertion of gypsum accessory plate. c Photomicrograph of another micro-domain showing polygonal quartz grains. d Photomicrograph of the microdomain in (c) upon insertion of gypsum accessory plate. Note in both b and d, the wide variation in interference colours between each grain relative to that of Sample 17 (Zone 2) in Fig. (i). Grey shaded portions in b & d hide other phases to focus on the quartz grains. All the photomicrographs (a-d) were acquired in 20x magnification. Fig. A2 Temperature–strain–rate diagram showing the regimes for bulging (BLG), subgrain rotation (SGR), and grain boundary migration (GBM) for quartz. Adapted from and modified after Law (2014) (PDF 3435 KB). Range of strain rates for quartz at temperatures of 330-400 ºC are shown using green-dashed lines. 

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Bose, S., Adlakha, V. & Pundir, S. Submagmatic flow to solid-state ductile deformation of the Karakoram Batholith, India: insights into syn-tectonic cooling and exhumation. Int J Earth Sci (Geol Rundsch) 111, 2337–2352 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00531-022-02236-8

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Keywords

  • Karakoram Batholith
  • Submagmatic flow
  • Exhumation
  • Cooling rate