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The Formation of the North Qilian Shan through Time: Clues from Detrital Zircon Fission-Track Data from Modern River Sediments

Abstract : Understanding the formation of the North Qilian Shan in the NE Tibetan Plateau provides insights into the growth mechanisms of the northern region of the plateau across time. Detrital zircon fission-track (ZFT) analyses of river sediments can provide a comprehensive understanding of the exhumation history during prolonged orogenesis. Here, we applied the detrital thermochronology approach to the Qilian Shan orogenic belt. This work presents the first single-grain detrital ZFT data from river-bed sediments of the upper Hei River catchment in North Qilian Shan. The single ZFT ages are widely distributed between about 1200 Ma and about 40 Ma. These data record the protracted history of the Qilian Shan region from the Neoproterozoic evolution of Rodinia and late Paleozoic amalgamation of Central Asia to the accretion of the Gondwanian blocks during the Meso-Cenozoic era. Strong post-magmatic cooling events occurred in North Qilian Shan at 1200~1000 Ma, corresponding to the assembly of the Rodinia supercontinent. The age population at 800 Ma documents the oceanic spreading in the late Neoproterozoic dismantling of Rodinia. ZFT ages ranging from about 750 Ma to 550 Ma (with age peaks at 723 Ma and 588 Ma) are consistent with the timing of the opening and spreading of the Qilian Ocean. The age peaks at 523 Ma and 450 Ma mark the progressive closure of that ocean ending with the collision of the Qilian block with the Alxa block—North China craton in the Devonian. The Qilian Ocean finally closed in Late Devonian (age peak at 375 Ma). In the late Paleozoic (275 Ma), the subduction of the Paleotethys Ocean led to extensive magmatic activity in the North Qilian Shan. During the Lower Cretaceous (145 Ma), the accretion of the Lhasa block to the south (and potentially the closure of the Mongol-Okhotsk Ocean to the northeast) triggered a renewed tectonic activity in the Qilian Shan. Finally, a poorly defined early Eocene exhumation event (50 Ma) suggests that the NE Tibetan Plateau started to deform nearly synchronously with the onset of the India-Asia collision. This study demonstrates the usefulness of combining modern-river detrital thermo-/geochronological ages and bedrock geochronological ages to understand large-scale orogenic evolution processes.
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Submitted on : Monday, April 25, 2022 - 4:28:35 PM
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Xu Lin, Marc Jolivet, Jing Liu-Zeng, Feng Cheng, Zhonghai Wu, et al.. The Formation of the North Qilian Shan through Time: Clues from Detrital Zircon Fission-Track Data from Modern River Sediments. Geosciences, MDPI, 2022, 12 (4), pp.166. ⟨10.3390/geosciences12040166⟩. ⟨insu-03651355⟩

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