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Pliocene-Quaternary crustal melting in central and northern Tibet and insights into crustal flow

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Qiang Wang, Chris J. Hawkesworth, Derek Wyman, Sun-Lin Chung, Fu-Yuan Wu, Xian-Hua Li, Zheng-Xiang Li, Guo-Ning Gou, Xiu-Zheng Zhang, Gong-Jian Tang, Wei Dan, Lin Ma, Yan-Hui Dong

Abstract

There is considerable controversy over the nature of geophysically recognized low-velocity-high-conductivity zones (LV-HCZs) within the Tibetan crust, and their role in models for the development of the Tibetan Plateau. Here we report petrological and geochemical data on magmas erupted 4.7-0.3 Myr ago in central and northern Tibet, demonstrating that they were generated by partial melting of crustal rocks at temperatures of 700-1,050 degrees C and pressures of 0.5-1.5 GPa. Thus Pliocene-Quaternary melting of crustal rocks occurred at depths of 15-50 km in areas where the LV-HCZs have been recognized. This provides new petrological evidence that the LV-HCZs are sources of partial melt. It is inferred that crustal melting played a key role in triggering crustal weakening and outward crustal flow in the expansion of the Tibetan Plateau.

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Original languageEnglish
Article number11888
Number of pages11
JournalNature Communications
Volume7
DOIs
StatePublished - 16 Jun 2016

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