Melting conditions in the modern Tibetan crust since the Miocene

Abstract : Abundant granitic rocks exposed in ancient mountain belts suggest that crustal melting plays a major role in orogenic processes. However, complex field relations and superposition of multiple tectonic events make it difficult to determine the role of melting in orogenesis. In contrast, geophysical measurements image present-day crustal conditions but cannot discriminate between partial melt and aqueous fluids. Here we connect pressure–temperature paths of Himalayan Miocene crustal rocks to the present-day conditions beneath the Tibetan plateau imaged with geophysical data. We use measurements of electrical conductivity to show that 4–16% water-rich melt is required to explain the crustal conductivity in the north-western Himalaya. In southern Tibet, higher melt fractions >30% reflect a crust that is either fluid-enriched (+1% H2O) or hotter (+100 °C) compared to the Miocene crust. These melt fractions are high enough for the partially molten rocks to be significantly weaker than the solid crust.
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Jinyu Chen, Fabrice Gaillard, Arnaud Villaros, Xiaosong Yang, Mickaël Laumonier, et al.. Melting conditions in the modern Tibetan crust since the Miocene. Nature Communications, Nature Publishing Group, 2018, 9, pp.3515. ⟨10.1038/s41467-018-05934-7⟩. ⟨insu-01870924⟩

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