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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Professor Yaoling Niu

Hu, Y., Niu, Yaoling, Li, J.Y., Ye, L., Kong, J.J., Chen, S., Zhang, Y. & Zhang, G.R (2016). Petrogenesis and tectonic significance of the Late Triassic mafic dikes and felsic volcanic rocks in the East Kunlun Orogenic Belt, Northern Tibet Plateau. Lithos 245: 205-222.

Author(s) from Durham


We present zircon U–Pb ages and geochemical data on the late Triassic mafic dikes (diabase) and felsic volcanic rocks (rhyolite and rhyolitic tuffs) in the East Kunlun Orogenic Belt (EKOB). These rocks give a small age window of 228–218 Ma. The mafic dikes represent evolved alkaline basaltic melts intruding ~ 8–9 Myrs older and volumetrically more abundant A-type granite batholith. Their rare earth element (REE) and multi-element patterns are similar to those of the present-day ocean island basalts (OIBs) except for a weak continental crustal signature (i.e., enrichment of Rb and Pb and weak depletion of Nb, Ta and Ti). Their trace element characteristics together with the high 87Sr/86Sr (0.7076–0.7104), low εNd(t) (− 2.18 to − 3.46), low εHf(t) (− 2.85 to − 4.59) and variable Pb isotopic ratios are consistent with melts derived from metasomatized subcontinental lithospheric mantle with crustal contamination. The felsic volcanic rocks are characterized by high LREE/HREE (e.g., [La/Yb]N of 5.71–17.00) with a negative Eu anomaly and strong depletion in Sr and P, resembling the model upper continental crust (UCC). Given the high 87Sr/86Sr (0.7213–0.7550) and less negative εNd(t) (− 3.83 to − 5.09) and εHf(t) (− 3.06 to − 3.83) than the UCC plus the overlapping isotopes with the mafic dikes and high Nb–Ta rhyolites, the felsic volcanic rocks are best interpreted as resulting from melting-induced mixing with 45–50% crustal materials and 50–55% mantle-derived mafic melts probably parental to the mafic dikes. Such mantle-derived melts underplated and intruded the deep crust as juvenile crustal materials. Partial melting of such juvenile crust produced felsic melts parental to the felsic volcanic rocks in the EKOB. We hypothesize that the late Triassic mafic dikes and felsic volcanic rocks are associated with post-collisional extension and related orogenic collapse. Such processes are probably significant in causing asthenospheric upwelling, decompression melting, induced melting of the prior metasomatized mantle lithosphere and the existing crust. This work represents our ongoing effort in understanding the origin of the juvenile crust and continental crustal accretion through magmatism in the broad context of orogenesis from seafloor subduction to continental collision and to post-collisional processes.