Lower Cretaceous volcanic lithic arenites, widely distributed in the Tethyan Himalaya, provide insights into the continental breakup of Eastern Gondwana. In southern Tibet they are represented by the Wölong Volcaniclastics. The volcanic rocks that contributed clastic material to the lower parts of this unit were predominantly alkali basalts, whereas rhyolitic/dacitic volcanism becomes the predominant source of the upper strata. Geochemical analyses of basaltic grains and of detrital Cr-spinels from the Wölong Volcaniclastics demonstrate the alkaline character of the volcanism and suggest "within-plate" tectonic setting for the volcanism. Zircon U-Pb ages confirm that this volcanism continued from ~ 140 Ma to ~ 119 Ma. Hf-isotope data on these Early Cretaceous zircons indicate that their parental magmas were mantle-derived, but in the later stage of magmatic activity mantle-derived magmas were mixed with partial melts derived from the continental crust.The Lower Cretaceous volcaniclastics occur along a broad belt paralleling the northern margin of Greater India. The onset of volcaniclastic deposition in the Himalayas appears to become progressively younger toward the west, but it ended synchronously during the Late Albian (~ 102 Ma). The low volume of volcanic rocks and their intra-plate tectonic setting suggest that they are the result of decompressional melting along extensional deep-seated fractures cross-cutting the continental crust, and reflect changes in regional intra-plate tectonic stresses when Greater India began to separate from the Australia-Antarctica supercontinent.