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Correlation of Himalayan exhumation rates and Asian monsoon intensity

Nature Geoscience volume 1, pages 875880 (2008) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Although most data suggest that the India–Eurasia continental collision began 45–55 Myr ago, the architecture of the Himalayan–Tibetan orogen is dominated by deformational structures developed in the Neogene period (<23 Myr ago). The stratigraphic record and thermochronometric data indicate that erosion of the Himalaya intensified as this constructional phase began and reached a peak around 15 Myr ago. It remained high until 10.5 Myr ago and subsequently slowed gradually to 3.5 Myr ago, but then began to increase once again in the Late Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs. Here we present weathering records from the South China Sea, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea that permit Asian monsoon climate to be reconstructed back to the earliest Neogene. These indicate a correlation between the rate of Himalayan exhumation—as inferred from published thermochronometric data—and monsoon intensity over the past 23 Myr. We interpret this correlation as indicating dynamic coupling between Neogene climate and both erosion and deformation in the Himalaya.

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Acknowledgements

P.D.C. thanks the A. von Humboldt Foundation for the time to work on this study. K.V.H. thanks the US National Science Foundation for supporting this research through EAR0087508, EAR0642731 and EAR0708714 through its Continental Dynamics, Sedimentary Geology and Paleobiology, and Tectonics programs.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3UE, UK

    • Peter D. Clift
    • , Hoang Van Long
    •  & Gerome Calves
  2. School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, PO Box 871404, Tempe, Arizona 85287-1404, USA

    • Kip V. Hodges
  3. F.B. Geowissenschaften, Universität Bremen, Klagenfurter Strasse, 28359 Bremen, Germany

    • David Heslop
  4. Department of Chemistry and Physics, Arkansas State University, State University, Arkansas 72467, USA

    • Robyn Hannigan

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Contributions

P.D.C. was responsible for deriving marine sedimentation rates and synthesizing the data. K.V.H. compiled thermochronology data and related the weathering to Himalayan tectonic history. D.H. generated the CRAT weathering proxy and processed colour spectral data. R.H. produced the whole-sediment XRF data, and H.V.L. and G.C. were responsible for the whole-core XRF scanner data.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Peter D. Clift.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo351

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