Monsoon control over erosion patterns in the western Himalaya: Possible feed-back into the tectonic evolution

Peter D. Clift*, Liviu Giosan, Andrew Carter, Eduardo Garzanti, Valier Galy, Ali R. Tabrez, Malcolm Pringle, Ian H. Campbell, Christian France-Lanord, Jurek Blusztajn, Charlotte Allen, Anwar Alizai, Andreas Lückge, Mohammed Danish, M. M. Rabbani

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    48 Citations (Scopus)


    The Indus Delta is constructed of sediment eroded from the western Himalaya and since 20 ka has been subjected to strong variations in monsoon intensity. Provenance changes rapidly at 12-8 ka, although bulk and heavy mineral content remains relatively unchanged. Bulk sediment analyses shows more negative εNd and higher 87Sr/86Sr values, peaking around 8-9 ka. Apatite fission track ages and biotite Ar-Ar ages show younger grains ages at 8-9 ka compared to at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). At the same time δ13C climbs from -23 to -20‰, suggestive of a shift from terrestrial to more marine organic carbon as Early Holocene sea level rose. U-Pb zircon ages suggest enhanced erosion of the Lesser Himalaya and a relative reduction in erosion from the Transhimalaya and Karakoram since the LGM. The shift in erosion to the south correlates with those regions now affected by the heaviest summer monsoon rains. The focused erosion along the southern edge of Tibet required by current tectonic models for the Greater Himalaya would be impossible to achieve without a strong summer monsoon. Our work supports the idea that although long-term monsoon strengthening is caused by uplift of the Tibetan Plateau, monsoon-driven erosion controls Himalayan tectonic evolution.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)185-218
    Number of pages34
    JournalGeological Society Special Publication
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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