Major and trace element, and Sr-Nd isotope constraints on the origin of Paleogene volcanism in South China prior to the South China Sea opening

Sun Lin Chung*, Hai Cheng, Bor Ming Jahn, Suzanne Y. O'Reilly, Bingquan Zhu

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    89 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Paleogene volcanic rocks crop out in three sedimentary basins, namely, Sanshui, Heyuan and Lienping, in the attenuated continental margin of south China. Lavas from the Sanshui basin which erupted during 64-43 Ma are bimodal, consisting of intraplate tholeiitic basalt and trachyte/rhyolite associations. Similar to Cretaceous A-type granites from the nearby region, the felsic member shows peralkaline nature [Na2O + K2O ≈ 10-12%; (Na + K)/Al ≈ 0.98-1.08], general enrichment in the incompatible trace elements and significant depletion in Ba, Sr, Eu, P and Ti. Although both types of the Sanshui lavas have rather uniform Nd isotope compositions [εNd(T) ≈ + 6 to + 4] that are comparable to Late Cenozoic basalts around the South China Sea, the felsic rocks possess apparently higher initial Sr isotope ratios (ISr up to ∼ 0.713) and form a horizontal array to the right in the Nd vs. Sr isotope plot. Closed system differentiation of mantle-derived magmas in a 'double diffusive' magma chamber is considered for the bimodal volcanism, in which the trachytes and rhyolites represent A-type melts after extensive crystal fractionation in the upper portion of the chamber. Such A-type melts were later contaminated by small amounts (1-3%) of upper crustal materials during ascent. On the other hand, composition of lavas in the other two basins varies from tholeiitic basalt to andesite. Their Sr and Nd isotope ratios [ISr ≈ 0.705 to 0.711; εNd(T) ≈ + 1 to -5] and generally correlative Nb-Ta depletions suggest a distinct magma chamber process involving fractional crystallization concomitant with assimilation of the country rock. We conclude that these Paleogene volcanic activities resulted from the lithospheric extension in south China that migrated southwards and eventually led to opening of the South China Sea during ∼ 30-16 Ma.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)203-220
    Number of pages18
    JournalLithos
    Volume40
    Issue number2-4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 1997

    Keywords

    • Bimodal
    • Opening of South China Sea
    • Paleogene volcanism
    • South China

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