The Dras Arc in NW India Himalaya is a belt of basaltic-andesites intercalated with arkose-dominated volcaniclastic rocks of the Nindam Formation situated along the Indus Suture between India and Eurasia. Debates exist as to whether these rocks developed in a forearc basin to the Eurasian margin or as part of an intraoceanic island arc system that collided with either India or Eurasia before final continental collision. Detrital zircons from the Nindam Formation yield U-Pb age spectra with dominant youngest age populations of ~84-125 Ma, corresponding with arc magmatism. Sandstone provenance analysis from the Nindam Formation indicates that the Dras Arc evolved from an undissected arc to dissected arc over a period of ~41 Myr. Slightly older, smaller populations occur at ~135-185 Ma, corresponding with reported ages of Neotethyan ophiolites (e.g., Spongtang). The basal section of the Nindam Formation reveals the presence of arc-derived basaltic-andesite and tonalite clasts, plus ophiolitic components sourced from an adjacent accretionary complex. There is a distinct absence of quartz or felsic granitic clasts, suggesting that the Nindam Formation did not develop as a forearc basin to the Ladakh Batholith of southern Eurasia but rather as separate intraoceanic island arc. A distinct "Gondwanan" signature occurs in all samples, with zircon age peaks at ~514-988, ~1000-1588, ~1627-2444, and ~2500 Ma. We suggest that the Dras and Spong arcs are the same intraoceanic island arc system that developed as a result of subduction initiation along NNE-SSW transform faults perpendicular to the Indian and Eurasia continents.
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