Himalayan Metamorphism and Its Tectonic Implications

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The Himalayan range exposes a spectacular assemblage of metamorphic rocks from the mid- and deep crust that have fostered numerous models of how the crust responds to continental collisions. Recent petrogenetically based petrologic and geochronologic studies elucidate processes with unprecedented resolution and critically test models that range from continuum processes to one-time events. The pronounced metamorphic inversion across the Main Central Thrust reflects continuum thrusting between ca. 15 and 20 Ma, whereas exposure of ultrahigh-pressure rocks in northwestern massifs and syntaxis granulites reflects singular early (≥45 Ma) and late (≤10 Ma) exhumation events. Multiple mechanisms including wedge collapse and flow of melt-weakened midcrust are debated to explain pressure-temperature trajectories, patterns of thinning, and thermal overprinting. A geochronologic revolution is under way in which spatially resolved compositions and ages of accessory minerals are combined in a petrogenetically valid context to recover specific temperature-time points and paths. Combined chemical and chronologic analysis of monazite is now well established and titanite is particularly promising, but recent zircon data raise questions about anatectic rocks and their use for investigating tectonism.