The channel-flow model for the Greater Himalayan Sequence (GHS) of the Himalayan orogen involves a partially molten, rheologically weak, mid-crustal layer “flowing” southward relative to the upper and lower crust during late Oligocene–Miocene. Flow was driven by topographic overburden, underthrusting, and focused erosion. We present new structural and thermobarometric analyses from the GHS in the Annapurna-Dhaulagiri Himalaya, central Nepal; these data suggest that during exhumation, the GHS cooled, strengthened, and transformed from a weak “active channel” to a strong “channel plug” at greater depths than elsewhere in the Himalaya. After strengthening, continued convergence resulted in localized top-southwest (top-SW) shortening on the South Tibetan detachment system (STDS). The GHS in the Annapurna-Dhaulagiri Himalaya displays several geological features that distinguish it from other Himalayan regions. These include reduced volumes of leucogranite and migmatite, no evidence for partial melting within the sillimanite stability field, reduced structural thickness, and late-stage top-southwest shortening in the STDS. New and previously published structural and thermobarometric constraints suggest that the channel-flow model can be applied to mid-Eocene–early Miocene mid-crustal evolution of the GHS in the Annapurna-Dhaulagiri Himalaya. However, pressure-temperature-time (PTt) constraints indicate that following peak conditions, the GHS in this region did not undergo rapid isothermal exhumation and widespread sillimanite-grade decompression melting, as commonly recorded elsewhere in the Himalaya. Instead, lower-than-typical structural thickness and melt volumes suggest that the upper part of the GHS (Upper Greater Himalayan Sequence [UGHS]—the proposed channel) had a greater viscosity than in other Himalayan regions. We suggest that viscosity-limited, subdued channel flow prevented exhumation on an isothermal trajectory and forced the UGHS to exhume slowly. These findings are distinct from other regions in the Himalaya. As such, we describe the mid-crustal evolution of the GHS in the Annapurna-Dhaulagiri Himalaya as an atypical example of channel flow during the Himalayan orogeny.
- Received 10 August 2015.
- Revision received 12 November 2015.
- Accepted 11 March 2016.
- ©The Authors
Gold Open Access: This paper is published under the terms of the CC-BY license.