How did the Dabie Orogen collapse? Insights from 3-D magnetotelluric imaging of profile data

Yixian Xu*, Sheng Zhang, W. L. Griffin, Yingjie Yang, Bo Yang, Yinhe Luo, Lupei Zhu, Juan Carlos Afonso, Binghua Lei

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


The Dabie Orogen is a key part of the Central Orogen of China and is well known because of its exposures to high- and ultrahigh-pressure metamorphic rocks. It has been proposed to have formed by continent-continent collision between the Yangtze and North China blocks in the Middle-to-Late Triassic and to have collapsed in the middle of the Early Cretaceous. However, there are few signatures in the lithospheric architecture that might constrain the scale of the orogenic collapse; as a result there has been a long-term debate on its origin. A 300 km long broadband magnetotelluric transect perpendicular to a major collapsed structure has been completed to find some possible clues to the mechanisms of the orogenic collapse. The inverted resistivity cross section from 3-D inversion of magnetotelluric profile data refines the postcollision lithospheric structure and in particular identifies domains of refertilized and depleted lithospheric mantle and isolated midcrustal low-velocity and high-conductivity zones. A correlation between voluminous surface magmatism in the Early Cretaceous and deep refertilized lithospheric mantle is illuminated by elevated electrical conductivity. We suggest that the lowermost crust was removed by delamination beneath the eastern Dabie during the orogenic collapse, while beneath the Tongbai-Xinyang Terrain residual cratonic crust is underlain by depleted lithospheric mantle with relatively high resistivity. The isolated low-velocity and high-conductivity zones in the middle crust have been ascribed to shear-promoted graphitic films which were destroyed by local granitic intrusions around 134 to 125 Ma. This lithospheric process can be attributed to far-field effects, such as refertilization in the lower lithospheric mantle, promoted by upwelling of the asthenosphere and related fluids, during Paleo-Pacific subduction beneath the Euro-Asian continent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5169-5185
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • Dabie Orogen
  • broadband magnetotelluric data
  • electrical lithosphere model
  • nature of lithosphere mantle
  • orogenic collapse


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