Geochemical evolution of the Dras-Kohistan Arc during collision with Eurasia: Evidence from the Ladakh Himalaya, India

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The Dras 1 Volcanic Formation of the Ladakh Himalaya, India, represents the eastern, upper crustal equivalent of the lower crustal gabbros and mantle peridotites of the Kohistan Arc exposed in Pakistan. Together these form a Cretaceous intraoceanic arc now located within the Indus Suture zone between India and Eurasia. During the Late Cretaceous, the Dras-Kohistan Arc, which was located above a north-dipping subduction zone, collided with the south-facing active margin of Eurasia, resulting in a switch from oceanic to continental arc volcanism. In the present study we analyzed samples from the pre-collisional Dras 1 Volcanic Formation and the postcollisional Kardung Volcanic Formation for a suite of trace elements and Nd isotopes. The Kardung Volcanic Formation shows more pronounced light rare earth element enrichment, higher Th/La and lower εNd values compared with the Dras 1 Volcanic Formation. These differences are consistent with an increase in the reworking of the continental crust by sediment subduction through the arc after collision. As little as 20% of the Nd in the Dras 1 Volcanic Formation might be provided by sources such as the Karakoram, while approximately 45% of the Nd in the Kardung Volcanic Formation is from this source. However, even before collision, the Dras- Kohistan Arc shows geochemical evidence for more continental sediment contamination than is seen in modern western Pacific arcs, implying its relative proximity to the Eurasian landmass. Comparison of the lava chemistry in the Dras-Kohistan Arc with that in the forearc turbidites suggests that these sediments are partially postcollisional, Jurutze Formation and not all pre-collisional Nindam Formation. Thus, the Dras-Eurasia collision can be dated as Turonian-Santonian (83.5-93.5 Ma), older than it was previously considered to be, but consistent with radiometric ages from Kohistan.

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Island Arc

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