Late Cretaceous crustal growth in the Gangdese area, Southern Tibet: petrological and Sr-Nd-Hf-O isotopic evidence from Zhengga diorite-gabbro

Lin Ma, Qiang Wang*, Derek A. Wyman, Zi Qi Jiang, Jin Hui Yang, Qiu Li Li, Guo Ning Gou, Hai Feng Guo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies of Gangdese granitic magmatism demonstrate a mantle contribution to crustal growth in southern Tibet during the Jurassic-Early Eocene. However, the specific mechanism for adding such juvenile crust has been disputed owing to a lack of reliable evidence for contemporaneous deep mantle geodynamic processes. Here, we report on the Zhengga diorite-gabbro suite from the Gangdese area. They consist of plagioclase (labradorite and anorthite), amphibole, clinopyroxene, biotite and minor magnetite, epidote, zircon and apatite. LA-ICP-MS zircon U-Pb dating for two samples gives a ca. 94Ma age for the Zhengga intrusive rocks, i.e., the Late Cretaceous. Apart from one high-SiO2 (52.2wt.%) diorite sample with slightly high K2O (1.72wt.%) and initial 87Sr/86Sr (0.7068) and low εNd(t) (-5.6) values, the gabbro samples are geochemically characterized by low SiO2 (39.8-50.1wt.%) and K2O (0.3-1.1wt.%), strongly negative Nb-Ta and positive Sr anomalies, and uniform initial 87Sr/86Sr (0.7043-0.7048). The gabbros can be divided into two groups: Group I gabbros with relatively low total rare earth element (REE), Rb and SiO2 contents and positive Eu anomalies, and Group II gabbros with slightly higher total REE, Rb and SiO2 contents and negative Eu anomalies. The Group I gabbros have εNd(t) (+1.7 to +4.1), and zircon εHf(t) (+6.5 to +11.1) and δ18O (5.89 to 7.24‰) values, which are slightly different to those of the Group II gabbros (-0.2 to +2.0, +2.9 to +6.5 and 6.24 to 7.05‰). Trace element compositions of amphibole and clinopyroxene grains suggest that the Zhengga mafic magmas contained a significant fluid-transported component, probably released from subducted oceanic lithosphere. We suggest that the parental magmas of the Zhengga gabbros were generated by the hydrous partial melting of lithospheric mantle metasomatized by sediment melts/fluids. The Group I gabbros were likely generated by the fractional crystallization of olivine or clinopyroxene from such parental magmas, with insignificant crustal contamination, whereas the Group II gabbros were probably produced by assimilation and fractional crystallization (AFC) processes from mafic magmas that were geochemically similar to the Group I gabbros. Pre-collisional underplating of mantle-derived mafic magmas likely played an important role in crustal growth and supplied the source materials for some late Late Cretaceous-Cenozoic granitoids of the Gangdese batholiths. This study also demonstrates that the hydrous partial melting of mantle wedge triggered by the dehydration in a subduction setting has a capacity to create significant volumes of juvenile continental crust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-70
Number of pages17
JournalChemical Geology
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • anorthosite
  • crustal growth
  • gabbro
  • metasomatized lithospheric mantle
  • Southern Tibet
  • underplating


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