Nepal Geological Society (NGS)

Nepalese National Group of IAEG Since 20 Years

P.O.Box No. 231 Kathmandu, Nepal


Geology, geochemistry, and radiochronology of the Kathmandu and Gosainkund Crystalline nappes, central Nepal Himalaya

Santa Man Rai

Department of Geology, Tribhuvan University, Tri-Chandra Campus, Kathmandu, Nepal

Jour. Nepal Geol. Soc., 2001, Vol. 25 (Sp. Issue), 135–155



A multidisciplinary study was carried out in the Lesser Himalaya (LH), the Kathmandu Crystalline Nappe (KCN) and the Gosainkund Crystalline Nappe (GCN) in central Nepal Himalaya. Two principal deformations are recorded in both the crystalline nappes and the Lesser Himalaya: ductile, syn-MCT/or syn-MT metamorphic deformation marked by microstructures (stretching lineation, S-C structures, and isoclinal folding) and post-MCT/or post-MT metamorphic deformation recorded by a major EW-directed Likhu Khola anticline and by NNE-SSW-directed folds. The Upper Lesser Himalayan rocks close to the Main Central Thrust (MCT) record syn-MCT metamorphic conditions at 750 MPa and 566 oC. The rocks of the KCN record P-T condition from 900 to 720 MPa and 700 to 484 oC, while the GCN rocks were equilibrated at upper amphibolite- to granulite-facies conditions from 890 to 583 MPa and 754 to 588 oC. The P-T conditions and field observations exhibit well-preserved inverted metamorphism between the Upper Lesser Himalaya and the Gosainkund Crystalline Nappe.

The augen gneisses from the GCN yielding 486±9 Ma U-Pb zircon age and the granites of similar age in the KCN bear similar petrographic and geochemical characteristics and suggest a similar magmatic origin although they belong to different tectonic units. The chemical analyses of the Proterozoic Ulleri augen gneiss of the LH and the granites of the KCN fall within the same compositional field, indicating a magmatic origin of these augen gneisses.

40Ar/39Ar datings on muscovite indicate cooling ages younging systematically from south to north: 22 to 14 Ma in the KCN, 16 to 5 Ma in the GCN, and 12 to 6 Ma in the LH. This systematic younging of muscovite ages does not have any correlation with the present elevation, lithology and tectonic unit and is interpreted as a result of the exhumation of the rock units on the Main Himalayan Thrust (MHT) ramp situated to the north of Kathmandu Valley. Both the KCN and the GCN record a late emplacement history, but the KCN was exhumed earlier than the GCN. The two crystalline nappes presently form a single tectonic block, and the combined uplift of the two nappes occurs on a ramp of a major décollement developed in the upper part of the Indian crust.

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