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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Prof Mark Allen

Yang, Liming, Song, Shuguang, Allen, Mark B., Su, Li, Dong, Jinlong & Wang, Chao (2018). Oceanic accretionary belt in the West Qinling Orogen: Links between the Qinling and Qilian orogens, China. Gondwana Research 64: 137-162.

Author(s) from Durham


We present an integrated study of ophiolite complexes and island arc rocks from the Tianshui-Wushan Accretionary Belt, West Qinling Orogen. The West Qinling Orogen is important because it links the Qinling orogen to the east and the Qilian and Kunlun orogens to the west. The link between these orogens is commonly assumed, but has little study in detail. Zircon U-Pb analyses from ophiolitic rocks indicate the oceanic lithosphere formed in the Cambrian (530–500 Ma). Pillow lavas in the ophiolite complex show geochemical signatures of enriched MORB, suggesting they represent remnants of an oceanic plateau or seamounts. The island arc rocks include a volcanic complex with basalt-andesite and boninite of Late Ordovician age (460–440 Ma), and a serpentinized peridotite massif. The serpentinized peridotite most likely represent a highly refractory mantle residue with subsequent melt-rock interaction at ~450 Ma, suggesting that it formed in a forearc setting. The co-occurrence of ophiolite complexes and island arc rocks indicates that Tianshui-Wushan Accretionary Belt is an oceanic suture zone caused by oceanic subduction in the Early Paleozoic. The island arc rocks most likely represent the early product of an Izu-Bonin-Mariana (IBM)-type intra-oceanic arc, developed in response to a collision between an oceanic plateau and a continental margin. Our study permits a tectonic correlation between the Tianshui-Wushan Accretionary Belt in the West Qinling Orogen and the South Qilian Accretionary Belt in the Qilian Orogen, thereby establishing the continuity between the Early Paleozoic orogenic belts along the southern margin of the North China Craton.