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Lacustrine Sedimentation in a Semiarid Alpine Setting: An Example from Ladakh, Northwestern Himalaya

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Monique Fort
Laboratoire de Géographie Physique, 54-64, UFR GHSS, Université Paris 7, 2 Place Jussieu, F-75 251 Paris Cedex 05, France
Douglas W. Burbank
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90089-0741
Pierre Freytet
Laboratoire de Pétrologie Sédimentaire, Bat. 504, Université Paris-Sud, F-91405 Orsay Cedex, France


The Lamayuru lacustrine strata in Ladakh typify many of the carbonate-rich Pleistocene alpine lakes found in the semiarid environment of the northern Himalaya. Created by a 200-m-thick landslide, the lake was in existence by at least 35,000 yr ago, and may have persisted until 500–1000 yr ago. Represented in the center by thin turbidites and laminated muds, the lacustrine sedimentation along the lake margins and low-relief deltas characteristically displays a marked contrast between (1) clastic lenses representing rapid, sporadic, matrix-poor debris flows and periglacial inputs from the alpine slopes and (2) abundant, diverse, shallow-water, biologically dominated carbonate strata, among which organism-rich, chalky beds and oncolithic and encrusted stem-rich strata predominate. Resemblances of the Lamayuru lacustrine strata and their setting to those of former lakes throughout areas north of the Greater Himalayan crest suggest that the alpine, semi-arid environment would favor diversified, spacially restricted carbonate sedimentation punctuated by occasional clastic influxes. Such a depositional regime contrasts strongly with that found immediately south of the Himalayan crest where more humid conditions promote a more continuous clastic influx into intramontane lakes.

Research Article
University of Washington

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