Relicts of a Cambrian oceanic arc in the Lajishan suture, NE Tibetan Plateau: Evidence for early-stage subduction within the Proto-Tethyan Ocean

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Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology


Lajishan suture in the Qilian Orogen records subduction process of the southern branch of the Proto-Tethyan Ocean. However, when and where the subduction started remain controversial issues. We present a study of the Cambrian volcanic rocks from the Lajishan suture. These volcanic rocks are coherent and composed of basalt, andesite, and volcanic breccia with minor interlayers or veins of dacite and rhyolite. Zircons from the dacite and rhyolite yield concordant Early-Middle Cambrian ages ranging from 521 to 510 Ma. Basalt and andesite exhibit subduction-related geochemical signatures with enrichment in large ion lithophile elements and depletion in high field strength elements. They have evolved REE, LREE, εNd(t) (+2.6 to +8.2), and (La/Sm)N ratios, suggesting derivation from depleted mantle wedge with addition of hydrous fluid or various amounts of sediment-derived melts. Dacite and rhyolite have positive zircon εHf(t) values (+6.1 to +11.6) and whole-rock εNd(t) values (+1.7 to +4.2). They were generated by partial melting of juvenile mafic crust resulting from magma underplating. These Cambrian volcanic rocks in the Lajishan suture are exposed to the south of the accretionary complex and therefore are likely to be relicts of Cambrian oceanic arc built on the oceanic crust during southward subduction of the South Qilian Ocean. Considering the Cambrian-Ordovician intra-oceanic trench-arc-basin system reconstructed in the North Qilian suture, it is suggested that both southern and northern branches of the Proto-Tethyan Ocean have experienced intra-oceanic subduction process which initiated at ca. 530 Ma.

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National Natural Science Foundation of China



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