Late Triassic orogenic collapse and Palaeo-Pacific slab roll-back beneath central South China: constraints from mafic granulite xenoliths and structural features

Xiyao Li, Jianping Zheng*, Sanzhong Li, Bo Liu, Lu Xiang, Yongming Wang, Xin Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


East Asia suffered an important transformation from the Tethys to the Pacific tectonic domain during the early Mesozoic. Moreover, the South China Block (SCB) in East Asia has an obvious change from an Indosinian syn-orogenic compression to a post-orogenic extensional tectonic setting. The dynamic evolution of the SCB that caused this change is still unclear. Here, we combine the petrology and whole-rock geochemistry of the Daoxian mafic granulite xenoliths in basalts from South Hunan Province and the structural features of the Xuefengshan tectonic belt, to propose a late Triassic tectonic model in the central SCB. The Daoxian region is located in the eastern part of the Xuefengshan basement uplift belt. The Daoxian mafic granulite xenoliths, forming in the late Triassic, have high Mg# value, high MgO and low SiO2 contents. They have flat REE patterns with a positive Eu anomaly, enriched in Rb, Ba, and depleted in Th, U, Nb, Zr and Hf. These xenoliths are the product of pyroxene and plagioclase accumulation of the mafic melts. The mafic melts originated from the asthenosphere and then underplated to the bottom of the lower crust. In the Xuefengshan belt, it is observed that the unconformities during the Late Triassic changed from high-angle unconformity, through low-angle unconformity and para-unconformity, to conformity, from the central to western parts of the SCB. The detachment layer beneath the Xuefengshan belt displaying NW-trending thrusts cross-cuts the late Palaeozoic strata. We suggest that orogenic collapse happened beneath the central SCB during the Late Triassic, which was accompanied by lithospheric extension and asthenospheric upwelling. These dynamic processes induced different effects on the SCB. Beneath the central SCB, the mantle-derived melt underplated the lower crust, and subsequently influenced the deep crust. From central to western SCB, the regular westward change of the stratal unconformities is related to the weakening of the lithospheric extension. In the central and eastern SCB, the orogenic collapse and the subsequent asthenosphere upwelling could have contributed to the mantle disturbance to enhance the roll-back of the Palaeo-Pacific slab.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-136
Number of pages14
JournalGeological Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Late Triassic
  • orogenic collapse
  • Palaeo-Pacific subduction
  • South China Block
  • Xuefengshan belt


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