Geochemistry and provenance of the Lower Siwaliks from southwestern Kohat, western Himalayan Foreland Basin, NW Pakistan


  • K. ULLAH University of Peshawar, National Center of Excellence in Geology. P.O. Box No. 734, University Campus, Peshawar 25120, Pakistan.
  • M. ARIF University of Peshawar, Department of GeologyPeshawar 25120, Pakistan. CIIT Department of Earth SciencesAbbottabad 22060, Pakistan.
  • M. TAHIR SHAH University of Peshawar, National Center of Excellence in Geology. Peshawar 25120, Pakistan.


Sandstone, Mudstone, Chinji Formation, Miocene, Western Himalayas, Pakistan


Equivalent to the Lower Siwalik Group, the Late Miocene Chinji Formation in Pakistan consists of interbedded in-channel sandstone (SSt) and overbank mudstone (MSt) sequences. Twelve sandstone and sixteen mudstone samples from three different sections of the formation in southwestern Kohat, NW Pakistan were analyzed for major elements and selected trace elements. The Chinji sandstones are feldspathic and lithic arenites. They are mostly matrix-supported, moderately to well sorted, and contain angular to rounded framework grains. Authigenic carbonate makes up most of the matrix. The framework grains consist of abundant monocrystalline quartz, alkali feldspar, and lithic fragments with subordinate mica and trace to accessory amounts of heavy minerals including epidote, monazite, apatite, garnet, rutile, and brown hornblende. The lithic fragments consist of sedimentary, volcanic, and low-grade metamorphic rocks.The average concentration of Zr, Nb and Y, and the Ba/Sc and Ba/Co ratios in the studied samples are lower than the corresponding values for the upper continental crust (UCC) and Post-Archean Australian Shale (PAAS) indicating the presence of mafic phases in the source area(s). The high average Cr/Zr and Cr/V ratios of the investigated samples relative to UCC and PASS also support the presence of mafic lihtologies, possibly chromite and ultramafic rocks in the source region. The La/Sc and Th/Sc ratios of the Chingi samples are more like the UCC while the Th/Co and Cr/Th ratios suggest a major contribution from mafic rocks. The average percent differences of the Chinji samples from both the UCC and PAAS in terms of critical silicic to basic trace element ratios (Ba/Co, Ba/Sc, La/Co, La/Sc, Th/Co, Th/Sc, Zr/Cr, and Zr/Sc) suggest a mafic contribution of 23 to 47% (mudstone) and 56 to 69% (sandstone). The lower Th/U, Rb/Sr and Zr/Sc ratios in the studied samples than the corresponding values of the UCC and PAAS suggest negligible recycling for the sediments of the Chinji Formation. Petrographic point count data on the Chinji sandstone indicate sediment derivation from a dissected arc, suture belt, and recycled orogen corresponding to the Kohistan-Ladakh Arc, the Indus Suture Zone, and the Himalayan Tectonic units, respectively. The different source rocks identified on the basis of various petrographic and geochemical parameters occur as part of the mentioned tectonic domains.