Basin Analysis of the Albian–Santonian Xigaze forearc, Lazi region, south-central Tibet


Orme, Devon A.
and Laskowski, Andrew K.

The Xigaze forearc basin records the evolution of the southern Lhasa terrane convergent margin, largely affected by Neo-Tethyan subduction processes, prior to the Paleocene Tethyan Himalaya–Eurasia collision. New geologic mapping and U-Pb detrital-zircon geochronologic data from the Lazi region, 340 km southeast of Lhasa, show that forearc basin sedimentation began ca. 110 Ma conformably atop the Yarlung–Tsangpo ophiolitic m´elange. By this time, the arc–trench system along the southern margin of the Lhasa terrane (Eurasia) consisted of an accretionary complex, overlying ophiolitic m´elange, the Xigaze forearc basin, and the Gangdese magmatic arc. There is no geological evidence in the Lazi region for more than one subduction zone between the southern Lhasa terrane margin and India. Sedimentological facies analysis from Albian to Santonian clastic and carbonate sedimentary rocks preserved in the Xigaze forearc basin indicate deep-marine sedimentation characterized by hemipelagic carbonate and volcanogenic sediment-gravity-flow deposits. Sandstone modal petrographic and U-Pb detrital-zircon geochronologic data reveal Asian continental margin, Gangdese magmatic arc, and central to northern Lhasa terrane provenance. During this time, basin fill was deposited in cycles of high and low sediment flux characterized by alternating successions of clastic turbidite inner- to outer-fan deposits and hemipelagic limestone and marlstone sequences. Along-strike differences in the timing of initial forearc basin sedimentation are likely the result of intrabasin topography and/or diachronous development of ophiolitic forearc basement.

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FIG. 1.—A) Simplified geologic map of southern Tibet ca. 848 E and 918 E. The Xigaze forearc basin (green) extends for ~ 550 km along the Indus–Yarlung Suture Zone. Ophiolitic (dark purple) and sedimentary-matrix m´elange (light purple) define the southern margin of the forearc. B) Geologic map of the study area north of Lazi. C) Region north of Jiwa where the forearc stratigraphy is in depositional contact with ophiolitic m´elange.

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Journal of Sedimentary Research, 2016, v. 86, 894–913. Research Article. DOI: