Indus Basin sediment provenance constrained using garnet geochemistry

TitleIndus Basin sediment provenance constrained using garnet geochemistry
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsAlizai, A, Clift, PD, Still, J
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Pagination29 - 57

Abstract The chemical and mineralogical diversity of western Himalayan rivers is the result of each of them draining different tectonic and lithologic units, whose character is partly transferred to the sediments carried by those rivers. Garnet geochemistry was employed to discriminate provenance in the Indus River system. We characterized the geochemistry of garnet sediment grains from the modern Indus and all its major tributaries, as well as the related but ephemeral Ghaggar-Hakra River and dune sand from the Thar Desert. Garnet geochemistry displays a unique signature for the Himalayan rivers on the east of the Indus drainage compared to those in the western drainage. The trunk Indus remains distinct because of the dominant arc-type pyrope-garnet derived from Kohistan and the Karakoram. The Jhellum, which lies just east of the modern Indus has modest concentrations of arc-type pyrope garnets, which are more depleted in the other eastern tributaries. Their presence in the Jhellum reflects recycling of trunk Indus garnets through the Miocene Siwalik Group foreland sedimentary rocks. The Thar Desert dune sample contains significant numbers of grains similar to those in the trunk Indus, likely reworked by monsoon winds from the SW. Our data further indicate the presence of a Himalayan river channel east of the present Indus, close to the delta, in the Nara River valley during the middle Holocene. Sands from this channel cannot be distinguished from the Indus on the basis of their garnet geochemistry alone but we favour their sedimentation from an Indus channel rather than reworking of desert sands by another stream. The garnet geochemistry shows some potential as a provenance tool, but cannot be used alone to uniquely discriminate Indus Basin provenance.