Understanding deformation mechanisms in Himalayan rocks is a challenging proposition due to the complex nature of the deformed rocks and their genesis. Crustal deformation in the Himalayan thrust belt typically occurs in elastico-frictional (EF) or quasi-plastic (QP) regimes at depths controlled mainly by regional strain-rate and geothermal gradient. However, material property, grain-size and their progressive changes during deformation are also important controlling factors. We present evidence of EF deformation from Gondwana rocks developed during the emplacement of one of the frontal horses (Jorthang horse) in the Lesser Himalayan Duplex (LHD) structure associated with Lesser Himalayan rocks in the footwall of the Ramgarh thrust in the Rangit window near Jorthang in the Sikkim Himalaya. The rocks in the horse exhibit systematic changes in microand meso-structures from an undeformed protolith to cataclasite suggesting that it was emplaced under elastico-frictional conditions. Meso- to micro-scale shear fractures are seen developed in Gondwana sandstone and slate while intercalated fine-grained shale-coal-carbonates are deformed by cataclastic flow suggesting that material property and grain-size have played an important role in the deformation of the Jorthang horse. In contrast, the hanging wall schists and quartzites of the Ramgarh thrust exhibit quasi-plastic deformation structures. This suggests that the Jorthang horse was emplaced under shallower crustal conditions than the antiformally folded Ramgarh thrust sheet even though the Ramgarh sheet presently overlies the Jorthang horse.
Volume 132, 2023
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