Most workers regard the Main Central Thrust (MCT) as one of the key high strain zones in the Himalaya because it accommodated at least 90 km of shortening, because that shortening exhumed and buried hanging wall and footwall rocks, and due to geometric and kinematic connections between the Main Central Thrust and the structurally overlying South Tibet Detachment. Geologists currently employ three unrelated definitions of the MCT: metamorphic-rheological, age of motion-structural, or protolith boundary-structural. These disparate definitions generate map and cross-section MCT positions that vary by up to 5 km of structural distance. The lack of consensus and consequent shifting locations impede advances in our understanding of the tectonic development of the orogen. Here, I review pros and cons of the three MCT definitions in current use. None of these definitions is flawless. The metamorphic-rheological and age of motion-structural definitions routinely fail throughout the orogen, whereas the protolith boundary-structural definition may fail only in rare cases, all limited to sectors of the eastern Himalaya. Accordingly, a definition based on high strain zone geometry and kinematics combined with identification of a protolith boundary is the best working definition of the MCT.
International Journal of Earth Sciences – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 3, 2016
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