Geochemical zonation across a Neoproterozoic orogenic belt: isotopic evidence from granitoids and metasedimentary rocks of the Jiangnan orogen, China

Xiao Lei Wang*, Jin Cheng Zhou, W. L. Griffin, Guochun Zhao, Jin Hai Yu, Jian Sheng Qiu, Yan Jie Zhang, Guang Fu Xing

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

312 Citations (Scopus)


In order to understand how Late Mesoproterozoic to Early Neoproterozoic orogenic belts evolved during the assembly and rifting of the supercontinent Rodinia, we have carried out detailed studies on the geochemical compositions of Early Neoproterozoic crust across the Jiangnan orogen (JO) which connects the Yangtze and Cathaysia blocks on the northwestern margin of Rodinia. A gradual geochemical variation is recognized from east to west, based on comparisons of whole-rock Nd isotopes, U-Pb age spectra of detrital zircons, and Hf isotopes in magmatic zircons and detrital zircons from the Neoproterozoic granitoids and metasedimentary basement sequences in the JO. LA-ICP-MS U-Pb dating of detrital zircons from the sediments and magmatic zircons from interlayered volcanic rocks suggests that the folded basement sequences formed within the span 860-825Ma, implying the final amalgamation of the Yangtze and Cathaysia blocks occurred no older than ca 825Ma. The 950-820Ma detrital zircons strongly dominate in the eastern basement sequences, and most of them show moderately to highly positive e{open};Hf(t). In contrast, many of the Early Neoproterozoic detrital zircons in the western JO have moderately negative e{open};Hf(t) and more older (>1.0Ga) detrital zircons were found in this area. We suggest that the metasedimentary basement sequences in the JO were deposited in retro-arc foreland basins which originally evolved from back-arc basins, and the change of provenance controlled the variation in crustal geochemistry of crust across the JO. Sediments in the eastern basement sequences have been sourced mainly from the juvenile subduction-related igneous rocks to the east, with a few from the central Yangtze Block, whereas those in the western JO may have been located far from arc terranes to the east and thus received more older recycled detritus from the southern part of the South China Block. Moreover, the Hf isotopes of the detrital zircons imply episodic crustal growth in the provenance of the JO metasedimentary basement sequences, with age peaks at 1.0-0.8Ga, 1.75-1.50Ga and 2.60-2.45Ga. The early crust in South China may have been formed mainly at around 3.8Ga ago, and contains some Hadean components (ca 4.1Ga).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-171
Number of pages18
JournalPrecambrian Research
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Crustal evolution
  • Geochemical variations
  • Hf isotopes
  • Jiangnan orogen
  • South China
  • U-Pb geochronology


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