Nd and Pb isotope variability in the Indus River system: Implications for sediment provenance and crustal heterogeneity in the western Himalaya

Document Type


Publication Date



The Indus River system is the only major drainage system in the western Himalaya, and erodes not only the High Himalaya, but also topographically high regions within and north of the Indus Suture Zone, most notably the Karakoram. Ion microprobe analysis of Pb isotopes in detrital K-feldspar grains taken from the tributaries of the Indus, together with bulk Nd isotope analysis of those same sediments, is here used to identify distinct sediment source regions. These span the very radiogenic Nanga Parbat and associated Lesser Himalaya, the relatively radiogenic-intermediate High Himalaya, the unradiogenic Ladakh and Kohistan Batholiths and intermediate values in the Hindu Kush, Karakoram and Lhasa Block. The range of compositions reflects differing degrees of recycling of older continental crust during petrogenesis. K-feldspars from the Ladakh and Kohistan Batholiths are less radiogenic than the laterally equivalent Gangdese granite of Tibet, interpreted to reflect the preferential recycling of accreted oceanic arc units within the western Transhimalaya prior to India-Asia collision. Similarly the Zanskar High Himalaya are less radiogenic than their equivalents in Nepal. Isotope values from Pleistocene Indus Fan sediment are compatible with a dominant source in the Karakoram, with additional important contributions from the are batholiths and High Himalaya, reflecting both the area and modern rates of tectonic uplift within the drainage basin. In contrast, radiogenic grains are common in the lower reaches of the modern Indus River, possibly as a result of the damming of the main river channel where it reaches the foreland. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Earth and Planetary Science Letters

First Page


Last Page


This document is currently not available here.