Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 62, Issue 5, pp 783–797 | Cite as

The Langjiexue Group is an in situ sedimentary sequence rather than an exotic block: Constraints from coeval Upper Triassic strata of the Tethys Himalaya (Qulonggongba Formation)

  • Zhongyu Meng
  • Jiangang WangEmail author
  • Weiqiang Ji
  • Hao Zhang
  • Fuyuan Wu
  • Eduardo Garzanti
Research Paper


The Upper Triassic Langjiexue Group in southeastern Tibet has long been an enigmatic geological unit. It belongs tectonically to the northern Tethys Himalayan zone, but provenance signatures of the detritus it contains are significantly different from those of typical Tethys Himalayan sandstones. Because the Langjiexue Group is everywhere in fault contact with Tethys Himalayan strata, its original paleogeographic position has remained controversial for a long time. According to some researchers, the Langjiexue Group was deposited onto the northern edge of the Indian passive continental margin, whereas others interpreted it as an independent block accreted to the northern Indian margin only during final India-Asia convergence and collision in the Paleocene. This study compares the Langjiexue Group and coeval Upper Triassic strata of the southern Tethys Himalayan zone (Qulonggongba Formation). Our new provenance data indicate that Qulonggongba Formation sandstones contain common felsic volcanic rock fragments, minor plagioclase, and euhedral to subhedral zircon grains yielding Late Paleozoic to Triassic ages. These provenance features compare well with those of the Langjiexue Group. Because the Qulonggongba Formation certainly belongs to the Tethys Himalayan zone, the provenance similarity with the Langjiexue Group indicates that the latter is also an in situ Tethys Himalayan sedimentary sequence rather than part of an exotic block. Volcanic detritus including Late Paleozoic to Triassic zircon grains in both Langjiexue Group and Qulonggongba Formation are interpreted to have been derived from the distant Gondwanide orogen generated by Pan-Pacific subduction beneath the southeastern margin of Gondwana. The Qulonggongba Formation, deposited above marlstones of the lower Upper Triassic Tulong Group, is overlain by India-derived coastal quartzose sandstones of the uppermost Triassic Derirong Formation. Deposition of both the Qulonggongba Formation and the Langjiexue Group were most likely controlled by regional tectonism, possibly a rifting event along the northern margin of Gondwana.


Tethys Himalaya Provenance analysis Langjiexue Group Detrital-zircon geochronology Tectonic setting Late Triassic Paleogeography 



We thank Yueheng Yang for help with laserablation analyses. We are grateful to the two reviewers for their constructive comments that significantly improved this paper. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41672109) and the Youth Innovation Promotion Associate Project of Chinese Academy of Science.

Supplementary material

11430_2018_9314_MOESM1_ESM.xls (30 kb)
Table S1 Detrital framework of sandstones from the Upper Triassic Qulonggongba Formation and Derirong Formation in Nyalam-Tingri area, southern Tibet
11430_2018_9314_MOESM2_ESM.xls (1.6 mb)
Table S2 Detrital zircon U–Pb dating results from the Upper Triassic in Nyalam-Tingri area, southern Tibet
11430_2018_9314_MOESM3_ESM.xls (41 kb)
Table S3 Detrital zricon Hf isotope from the Upper Triuassic Qulonggongba Formation in Nyalam-Tingri area, southern Tibet


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhongyu Meng
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jiangang Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Weiqiang Ji
    • 1
  • Hao Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Fuyuan Wu
    • 1
  • Eduardo Garzanti
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Geology and GeophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Laboratory for Provenance Studies, Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversità di Milano-BicoccaMilanoItaly

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