Origin and tectonic implications of an Early Paleozoic (460-440 Ma) subduction-accretion shear zone in the northwestern Yunkai Domain, South China

Liu S., Peng S., Kusky T., Polat A., Han Q.

LITHOS, vol.322, pp.104-128, 2018 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 322
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.lithos.2018.10.006
  • Journal Name: LITHOS
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.104-128
  • Keywords: Northwestern Yunkai Domain, Arc volcanic rocks, Forearc ophiolites, Early Paleozoic tectonic melange, Subduction-accretion orogeny, Yangtze/Cathaysia suture, SETOUCHI VOLCANIC BELT, WESTERN GUANGDONG PROVINCE, BONINITE SERIES VOLCANICS, U-PB GEOCHRONOLOGY, I-TYPE GRANITOIDS, HIGH-MG ANDESITES, FORE-ARC CRUST, HIGH-NB BASALT, NORTHERN MARGIN, GREENSTONE-BELT
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


The geological evolution of the Early Paleozoic Wuyi-Yunkai orogen in South China is a scientific question of a long-standing debate. We document the presence of a NE-NEE-striking Early Paleozoic subduction-accretion shear zone, a possible melange belt, in the northwestern Yunkai Domain. The northwestern Yunkai shear zone consists predominantly of tectonically juxtaposed fragments of Early Paleozoic flysch, arc volcanic rocks, and a forearc ophiolite. The Yunkai shear zone displays typical melange structures in several locations; however, these structures are not continuous throughout the shear zone. The shear zone provides evidence for greenschist to amphibolite facies metamorphism and intense deformation resulting from Early Paleozoic to Early Mesozoic tectonic events. The flysch fragments are characterized by northwestward younging, northwestward thrusting, and northwestward migration of deformation and metamorphism. The arc volcanic rocks consist of basaltic-andesite, andesite, and dacite with a mainly sanukitic composition and also include Nb-enriched basalts. They are characterized by enrichment of LREEs, LILEs, Pb and depletion of HFSEs, suggesting a continental forearc or a continental arc tectonic setting. The ophiolitic fragments consist of MORB-like basalt and dolerite/gabbro. They have slightly depleted to flat LREE patterns and are characterized by enrichment of LILEs and Pb and depletion of HFSEs, indicating a continental forearc setting. Zircon U-Pb analyses yield 460-443 Ma and 455-437 Ma ages for the sanukitic volcanic rocks and ophiolitic fragments, respectively, suggesting that they formed in the Late Ordovician to Early Silurian. Both the sanukitic volcanic rocks and ophiolitic fragments possess negative to positive zircon epsilon(Hf)(t) values (-11.0 to +23), indicating that they may have been generated by partial melting of an old subarc mantle wedge source metasomatized by slab-derived fluids and/or melts. Recognition of the Early Paleozoic subduction-related magmatism and subduction-accretion structures in the northwestern Yunkai Domain has important implications for the tectonic history of the Wuyi-Yunkai orogen, South China. Collectively, combined with previous studies, we propose that the Huanan oceanic lithosphere began to subduct southeast- ward beneath the Yunkai terrane (arc) as early as 460 Ma, and the subduction continued between 460 and 440 Ma. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.