The Open UniversitySkip to content

Geochemical Insights into Crustal Melting in the Bhutan Himalaya

Hopkinson, Thomas Neil (2016). Geochemical Insights into Crustal Melting in the Bhutan Himalaya. PhD thesis Open University.

Full text available as:
PDF (Version of Record) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (45MB) | Preview
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Crustal melting and granitic intrusions are characteristics of many continental collision zones. The processes, sources and timing of melt generation in collision zones are critical to understanding crustal and tectonic evolution. In the Himalaya, multiple Oligocene-Miocene leucogranite bodies intrude the Greater Himalayan Series (GHS), a lithotectonic package of high-grade metamorphosed sediments. This package is underthrust by a chemically distinct metasedimentary package, the Lesser Himalayan Series (LHS).

Multiple elemental and isotopic techniques provide insight into leucogranite source and petrogenesis in central Bhutan (eastern Himalaya). Whole-rock major and trace elemental abundances confirm that all studied leucogranites are the product of muscovite breakdown between 640 and 760°C. Sr-Nd signatures suggest that most samples were sourced from the GHS; however several samples yield signatures more comparable with those from the LHS, an observation that currently appears unique to Bhutan.

O, U-Pb, Hf isotopes in zircon confirm previous whole-rock findings that melting in the eastern Himalaya took place over 20 Myr, from 31 to 11 Ma. Increasingly radiogenic Nd and Hf isotope signatures are observed in younger leucogranites, which suggest a deeper source, and potentially more contribution from melting LHS. Importantly, O-Hf isotopic signatures indicate that there is no mantle input into eastern Himalayan melting, a finding important for heat budget calculations and for crustal growth models in orogenic belts.

Stable Rb and Sr isotopic analyses from both whole-rock leucogranites and mineral separates establish, for the first time, that mass-dependent isotopic fractionation occurs during the formation of highly evolved crustal melts. Consistent Sr fractionation of up to 2.51‰ is observed between plagioclase, K-feldspar and micas. These observations have implications for the application of stable isotopes as petrogenetic indicators and for Rb-Sr geochronology.

Together, the findings of this study provide new insights into both Himalayan and global tectonic evolution and the geochemical nature of melt generation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: 2016 The Author
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
NERC CASE studentshipNE/K501074/1NERC
Keywords: Bhutan; Himalaya; leucogranite; geochemistry; zircon; geochronology
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Item ID: 48430
Depositing User: Thomas Hopkinson
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2017 10:07
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2019 00:15
Share this page:

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU