Dalhousie Geodynamics : Research : Large Hot Orogens : Crustal Channel Flows
Papers published in Channel Flow, Ductile Extrusion and Exhumation of Lower-mid Crust in Continental Collision Zones, Geological Society of London Special Publication 268, edited by R.D. Law, M. Searle, and L. Godin:
Beaumont, C., Nguyen, M., Jamieson, R.A., and Ellis, S., 2006. Crustal flow modes in large hot orogens, in: eds, R.D. Law, M. Searle, and L. Godin, Channel Flow, Ductile Extrusion and Exhumation of Lower-mid Crust in Continental Collision Zones, Geological Soc. London Spec. Publ. 268.
Abstract: Crustal scale channel flow numerical models support recent interpretations of Himalayan-Tibetan tectonics proposing that gravitationally driven channel flows of low- viscosity, melt weakened, middle crust can explain both outward growth of the Tibetan plateau and ductile extrusion of the Greater Himalayan Sequence. We broaden the numerical model investigation to explore three flow modes: Homogeneous Channel Flow (involving laterally homogeneous crust); Heterogeneous Channel Flow (involving laterally heterogeneous lower crust that is expelled and incorporated into the mid-crustal channel flow); and Hot Fold Nappes style of flow (in which mid-/lower crust is forcibly expelled outward over a lower crustal indentor to create fold nappes that are inserted into the mid-crust). The three flow modes are members of a continuum in which the Homogeneous mode is driven by gravitational forces but requires very weak channel material. The Hot Fold Nappe mode is driven tectonically by, for example, collision with a strong crustal indentor and can occur in crust that is subcritical for Homogeneous flows. The Heterogeneous mode combines tectonic and gravitationally-driven flows. Preliminary results also demonstrate the existence and behaviour of mid-crustal channels during advancing and retreating dynamical mantle lithosphere subduction. An orogen Temperature-Magnitude (T-M) diagram is proposed and the positions of orogens in T-M space that may exhibit the flow modes are described, together with the characteristic positions of a range of other orogen types.Abstract [PDF]
Abstract: Numerical models for channel flow in the Himalayan-Tibetan system are compatible with many tectonic and metamorphic features of the orogen. Here we compare the provenance of crustal material in two channel flow models (HT1 and HT111) with observations from the Himalaya and southern Tibet. Thirty million years after the onset of channel flow, the entire model crust south of the India-Asia suture still consists only of "Indian" material. The model Greater Himalayan Sequence ("GHS") is derived from Indian middle crust originating = 1000 km south of the initial position of the suture, whereas the Lesser Himalayan Sequence ("LHS") is derived mainly from crust originating = 1400 km south of the suture. Material tracking indicates little or no mixing of diverse crustal elements in the exhumed region of the model "GHS", which is derived from originally contiguous materials that are transported together in the top of the channel flow zone. These results are compatible with provenance data indicating a clear distinction between GHS and LHS protoliths, with the GHS originating from a more distal position (relative to cratonic India) than the LHS. In model HT111, domes formed between the suture and the orogenic front are cored by "Indian" middle crust similar to the "GHS", consistent with data from the north Himalayan gneiss domes. Material tracking shows that plutons generated south of the suture should have "Indian" crustal signatures, also compatible with observations. Model "GHS" P-T-t paths pass through the dehydration melting field between 30 and 15 Ma, consistent with observed leucogranite ages. Finally, exposure of mid-crustal "GHS" and "LHS" material at the model erosion front is consistent with the observed appearance of sedimentary detritus in the Lesser Himalaya. We conclude that channel flow model results are compatible with provenance data from the Himalaya and southern Tibet.