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Restoration and evolution of the intermontane Indus molasse basin, Ladakh Himalaya, India

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0040-1951(90)90327-5
  • Archaeology
  • Earth Science


Abstract Collision of the Indian Plate with the Karakorum Plate-Lhasa Block during the Eocene (ca. 55-50 Ma) created predominantly a S- or SW-verging thrust culmination across the Himalaya. During the late Tertiary, two molasse basins existed — the Siwalik Bain, formed in the late Miocene to Present on the Indian foreland south of the Himalaya, and the mid-Eocene to late Miocene Indus Basin along the Indus Suture Zone north of the High Himalaya. The Indus Basin is approximately 2000 km long, extending eastwards from Ladakh across South Tibet. A balanced cross-section along the Zanskar River shows a minimum 36 km shortening in the Eocene-?late Miocene molasse, and suggests that the minimum basin width was approximately 60 km in Ladakh. More than 2000 m of post-Eocene alluvial fan, fluvial and fluvio-lacustrine sediments accumulated in the Ladakh sector with petrographies suggesting derivation mainly from the deeply dissected and uplifted northern granodioritic Ladakh batholith (Aptian-Eocene), with only minor amounts of debris derived from the deformed southern Tethyan passive margin. Palaeocurrents show predominant E-W, axis-parallel, sediment transport, with subordinate lateral input paths being preserved. The Indus molasse basin is deformed by numerous, post-Eocene, N-directed backthrusts, many of which cut the entire stratigraphy and, therefore, were active at least into late Tertiary times.

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