Pyroxenite dykes in orogenic peridotite from North Qaidam (NE Tibet, China) track metasomatism and segregation in the mantle wedge

Qing Xiong*, Jianping Zheng, William L. Griffin, Suzanne Y. O'Reilly, Norman J. Pearson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


The early stages of magmatic processes operating at mantle depths beneath continental arcs are poorly known. The chemical compositions of minerals and rocks, mineral Sr–Nd–Hf–O isotopes and zircon U–Pb ages of garnet clinopyroxenite dykes from the Shenglikou peridotite massif (North Qaidam Orogen, NE Tibet, China) were studied to constrain their sources and genesis, and the dynamic processes that controlled pyroxenite formation beneath an early Paleozoic active continental margin. Major-element compositions of bulkrocks suggest that the pyroxenitic protoliths were cumulates segregated from a melt, which was extracted from a peridotite-dominated mantle source. Bulk-rock and mineral trace-element patterns show strong enrichment in fluid-mobile elements (e.g. Cs, Rb, Ba, Th, U, K, Pb and Li) and marked negative anomalies in the high field strength elements relative to rare earth elements, similar to the characteristics of melts derived from a volatile-rich sub-arc mantle. Enriched Sr and Nd initial isotopic compositions at 500 Ma (87Sr/86Sr of 0·70919–0·71774 and εNd of −16·3 to −3·4) are in contrast to the highly radiogenic Hf isotope compositions (similar to those of the depleted-mantle reservoir) and to the uncontaminated upper-mantle δ18OV-SMOW (garnet: 5·6 ± 0·3‰, 2SD, n = 61; zircon: 5·9 ± 0·3‰, 2SD, n = 28). These decoupled isotopic signatures suggest that the melt source was located in a convective mantle wedge (controlling the Hf and O isotopes) that had been pervasively metasomatized by fluids from a subducted Proto-Tethys oceanic slab (controlling the Sr–Nd isotopes and highly incompatible elements). Zircons with two groups of U–Pb ages (430 ± 5 Ma and 401 ± 7 Ma) were generated by recrystallization events, corresponding to UHP metamorphism and a major uplift stage during the North Qaidam orogeny, respectively. The combined evidence reveals a picture of continental arc magmatism at mantle depths and subsequent continental collision. The subduction of the Proto-Tethys oceanic slab beneath the southern Qilian margin triggered flux melting of the metasomatized convective mantle wedge and generated hydrous arc magmas. These primitive magmas intruded into the overlying lithospheric mantle and segregated the cumulates parental to the Shenglikou pyroxenites. Subsequent continental subduction incorporated fragments of the mantle-wedge peridotite (containing pyroxenite dykes) at ∼430 Ma and carried them to shallow depths during exhumation at ∼400 Ma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2347-2376
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2014


  • arc magmatism
  • mantle pyroxenite dykes
  • mantle wedge
  • North Qaidam Orogen
  • Tibetan peridotite massif


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