Rapid exhumation and cooling of the Liaonan metamorphic core complex

Inferences from 40Ar/39Ar thermochronology and implications for Late Mesozoic extension in the eastern North China Craton

Jin Hui Yang*, Fu Yuan Wu, Sun Lin Chung, Ching Hua Lo, Simon A. Wilde, Gregory A. Davis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

160 Citations (Scopus)


The Liaonan metamorphic core complex formed during crustal extension in the Liaodong Peninsula, eastern North China craton, and consists of the Jinzhou detachment fault, Proterozoic-Paleozoic sedimentary rocks in its upper plate, and exhumed high-grade Archean metamorphic rocks and Early Cretaceous granitic plutons in the lower plate. Exhumation of its footwall from mid-crustal levels is evidenced in the detachment fault zone by the temporal transition from amphibolite facies mylonitization at depth, through retrograde chloritic shearing and brecciation, to brittle faulting during final uplift. The footwall mylonite zone is 2.5-3.5 km thick and includes Early Cretaceous (128-118 Ma) granitic rocks, together with older metamorphic rocks. The 40Ar/39Ar ages of muscovite, hornblende, biotite, and K-feldspar from the mylonitic rocks record that the core complex cooled between ca. 120 and 107 Ma, from the time of initial crystallization of zircons (122-118 Ma) at 700-800 °C in syntectonic leucocratic dikes and granitic rocks, to closure of argon diffusion in hornblende, micas, and K-feldspar at ∼500 to ∼200 °C. Throughout the eastern North China craton, the synchroneity of cooling and exhumation of metamorphic core complexes, the formation of pull-apart basins, and regional alkaline igneous activity, reflects regional extensional tectonics in the Early Cretaceous. This accompanied lithospheric thinning, possibly resulting from the rollback of the subducted Pacific plate along the eastern Asian margin during the Early Cretaceous.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1405-1414
Number of pages10
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of America
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Argon thermochronology
  • Crustal extension
  • Early Cretaceous
  • Liaodong Peninsula
  • Liaonan metamorphic core complex
  • Metamorphic core complex
  • North China Craton

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