Remagnetization of the Paleogene Tibetan Himalayan carbonate rocks in the Gamba area: Implications for reconstructing the lower plate in the India-Asia collision

Wentao Huang, Peter C. Lippert, Michael J. Jackson, Mark J. Dekkers, Yang Zhang, Juan Li, Zhaojie Guo, Paul A Kapp, Douwe J J van Hinsbergen

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The characteristic remanent magnetization (ChRM) isolated from Paleogene carbonate rocks of the Zongpu Formation in Gamba (28.3°N, 88.5°E) of southern Tibet has previously been interpreted to be primary. These data are pertinent for estimating the width of Greater India and dating the initiation of India-Asia collision. We have reanalyzed the published ChRM directions and completed thorough rock magnetic tests and petrographic observations on specimens collected throughout the previously investigated sections. Negative nonparametric fold tests demonstrate that the ChRM has a synfolding or postfolding origin. Rock magnetic analyses reveal that the dominant magnetic carrier is magnetite. “Wasp-waisted” hysteresis loops, suppressed Verwey transitions, high frequency-dependent in-phase magnetic susceptibility, and evidence that >70% of the ferrimagnetic material is superparamagnetic at room temperature are consistent with the rock-magnetic fingerprint of remagnetized carbonate rocks. Scanning electron microscopy observations and energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry analysis confirm that magnetite grains are authigenic. In summary, the carbonate rocks of the Zongpu Formation in Gamba have been chemically remagnetized. Thus, the early Paleogene latitude of the Tibetan Himalaya and size of Greater India have yet to be determined and the initiation of collision cannot yet be precisely dated by paleomagnetism. If collision began at 59 ± 1 Ma at ~19°N, as suggested by sedimentary records and paleomagnetic data from the Lhasa terrane, then a huge Greater India, as large as ~3500–3800 km, is required in the early Paleogene. This size, in sharp contrast to the few hundred kilometers estimated for the Early Cretaceous, implies an ever greater need for extension within Greater India during the Cretaceous.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)808-825
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2017



  • India-Asia collision
  • Paleogene carbonate rocks
  • remagnetization
  • Tibetan Himalaya

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Forestry
  • Ecology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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