Geology of the summit limestone of Mount Qomolangma (Everest) and cooling history of the Yellow Band under the Qomolangma detachment

Harutaka Sakai, Minoru Sawada, Yutaka Takigami, Yuji Orihashi, Tohru Danhara, Hideki Iwano, Yoshihiro Kuwahara, Qi Dong, Huawei Cai, Jianguo Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Newly discovered peloidal limestone from the summit of Mount Qomolangma (Mount Everest) contains skeletal fragments of trilobites, ostracods and crinoids. They are small pebble-sized debris interbedded in micritic bedded limestone of the Qomolangma Formation, and are interpreted to have been derived from a bank margin and redeposited in peri-platform environments. An exposure of the Qomolangma detachment at the base of the first step (8520 m), on the northern slope of Mount Qomolangma was also found. Non-metamorphosed, strongly fractured Ordovician limestone is separated from underlying metamorphosed Yellow Band by a sharp fault with a breccia zone. The 40Ar-39Ar ages of muscovite from the Yellow Band show two-phase metamorphic events of approximately 33.3 and 24.5Ma. The older age represents the peak of a Barrovian-type Eo-Himalayan metamorphic event and the younger age records a decompressional high-temperature Neo-Himalayan metamorphic event. A muscovite whole-rock 87Rb-86Sr isochron of the Yellow Band yielded 40.06±0.81Ma, which suggests a Pre-Himalayan metamorphism, probably caused by tectonic stacking of the Tibetan Tethys sediments in the leading margin of the Indian subcontinent. Zircon and apatite grains, separated from the Yellow Band, gave pooled fission-track ages of 14.4±0.9 and 14.4±1.4Ma, respectively. These new chronologic data indicate rapid cooling of the hanging wall of the Qomolangma detachment from approximately 350°C to 130°C during a short period (15.5-14.4Ma).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-310
Number of pages14
JournalIsland Arc
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology


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