Structural, thermobarometric, and thermochronologic investigations of the Kangmar Dome, southern Tibet, suggest that both extensional and contractional deformational histories are preserved within the dome. The dome is cored by an orthogneiss which is mantled by staurolite + kyanite zone metasedimentary rocks; metamorphic grade dies out up section and is defined by a series of concentric kyanite-in, staurolite-in, garnet-in, and chloritoid-in isograds. Three major deformational events, two older penetrative events and a younger doming event, are preserved. The oldest event, D1, resulted in approximately E-W trending tight to isoclinal folds of bedding with an associated moderately to steeply north dipping axial planar foliation, S1. The second event, D2, resulted in a high strain mylonitic foliation, S2, which defines the domal structure, and an associated approximately N-S trending stretching and mineral alignment lineation. Shear sense during formation of S2 varied from dominantly top S shear on the south dipping flank of the dome to top N shear on the north dipping flank. The central part of the dome exhibits either opposing shear sense indicators or symmetric fabrics. Microtextural relations indicate that peak metamorphism occurred post-D1 and pre- to early D2 deformation. Quantitative thermobarometry yields peak metamorphic conditions of ∼445°C and 370 MPa in garnet zone rocks, increasing to 625°C and 860 MPa in staurolite + kyanite zone rocks. Pressures and temperatures increase with depth and northward within a single structural horizon across the dome and the apparent gradient in pressure is ∼20% of the expected gradient, suggesting that the rocks were subvertically shortened after the pressure gradient was frozen in. Mica 40Ar/39Ar thermochronology yields 15.24 ± 0.05 to 10.94 ± 0.30 Ma cooling ages that increase with depth and young northward within a single structural horizon across the dome. Diffusion modeling of potassium feldspar 40Ar/39Ar spectra yield rapid cooling rates (∼10–30°C/Myr) between ∼11.5 and 10 Ma and apatite fission track ages range from 7.9 ± 3.0 to 4.1 ± 1.9 Ma, with a mean age of ∼5.5 Ma. Both data sets show symmetric cooling across the dome between ∼11 and 5.5 Ma. The S2 mylonitic foliation, peak metamorphic isobars and isotherms, and mica 40Ar/39Ar isochrons are domed, whereas potassium feldspar 40Ar/39Ar and apatite fission track isochrons are not, suggesting that doming occurred at ∼11 Ma. Our data do not support simple, end-member metamorphic core complex-type extension, diapirism, or duplex models for gneiss dome formation. Rather, we suggest that the formation of extensional fabrics occurred within a zone of coaxial strain in the root zone of the Southern Tibetan Detachment System (STDS), implying that normal slip along the STDS and extensional fabrics within the Kangmar Dome were the result of gravitational collapse of overthickened crust. Subsequent doming during the middle Miocene is attributed to thrusting upward and southward over a north dipping ramp above cold Tethyan sediments. Middle Miocene thrust faulting in the Kangmar Dome region is synchronous with continued normal slip along the STDS and thrust motion along the Renbu Zedong thrust fault, suggesting that extension and contraction was occurring simultaneously within southern Tibet.
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