Interactions between Deformation, Magmatism and Hydrothermal Activity during Active Crustal Thickening: A Field Example from Nanga Parbat, Pakistan Himalayas

Robert W. H. Butler, Nigel B. W. Harris and Alan G. Whittington
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
Department of Earth Sciences, Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK

Abstract: The Nanga Parbat massif is a rapidly eroding, thrust-related antiform that is distinct from other regions of the Himalayan orogen in being both intruded by Late Miocene-Pliocene anatectic granites and permeated by a vigorous hydrothermal system. Exhumation is achieved by erosion during thrusting along the Liachar thrust in the apparent absence of extensional tectonics. At depths in excess of 20 km, small batches of leucogranitic melt have been generated by fluid-absent breakdown of muscovite from metapelitic lithologies. These melts ascend several kilometres prior to emplacement, aided by low geothermal gradients at depth and by interaction with meteoric water as they reach shallow levels. At intermediate depths (∼15 km) limited fluid infiltration is restricted to shear zones resulting in localised anatexis. Within the upper 8 km of crust, magmatic and meteoric fluid fluxes are channelised by active structures providing a feedback mechanism for focusing deformation. Leucogranite sheets show a range of pre-full crystallization and high-temperature crystal-plastic textures indicative of strain localisation onto these sheets and away from the country rocks. At subsolidus temperatures meteoric fluids promote strain localisation and may trigger cataclastic deformation. Since nearsurface geothermal gradients are unusually steep, the macroscopic transition between distributed shearing and substantial, but localised, cataclastic deformation occurred at amphibolite-facies conditions (∼600°C). Even with the greatest topographic relief in the world, the meteoric system of Nanga Parbat is effectively restricted to the upper 8 km of the crust, strongly controlled by active structures.

Keywords: crustal thickening • deformation • magmatism • hydrothermal activity • Himalayas

Mineralogical Magazine; February 1997 v. 61; no. 404; p. 37-52; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1997.061.404.05
© 1997, The Mineralogical Society
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