Refertilization of lithospheric mantle beneath the Yangtze craton in south-east China: evidence from noble gases geochemistry

Alessandra Correale*, Andrea Luca Rizzo, Peter H. Barry, Jianggu Lu, Jianping Zheng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The Yangtze craton (YC), in eastern China, is one of the oldest cratons in the world and is characterized by a complex tectonic and geodynamic evolution. This evolution regards most of the eastern China craton, which since Mesozoic time has undergone significant thinning (> 200 km) of Archean lithosphere. This thinning favored the refertilization of the old refractory subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM) by the upwelling of younger fertile asthenosphere. Whether this feature is localized only beneath certain areas of eastern China or is a more widespread characteristic of the mantle, including the YC, is a matter of debate. In order to constrain the history of the YC SCLM, we have measured the He- and Ar-isotopic compositions of fluid inclusions hosted in mantle xenoliths in the Lianshan area, which is part of the poorly investigated YC in south-east China. We also report new mineral chemistry and trace element compositions of clinopyroxenes from the same suite of samples, for comparison with noble gases. Two distinct types of xenoliths can be identified: Type 1, characterized by mantle-like He-isotopic (3He/4He) ratios (up to 9.1 Ra), represents fragments of a fertile lithospheric mantle; Type 2, showing 3He/4He values in the SCLM range (3He/4He < 7 Ra), represents shallow relicts of a refractory mantle. The patterns of rare-earth elements as well as the Y and Yb concentrations in the clinopyroxenes normalized to primitive mantle (YN and YbN, respectively) indicate that fractional partial melting might have affected the local mantle by < 3% in Type 1 and up to 20% in Type 2 xenoliths from Lianshan, respectively. The range of 4He/40Ar* (40Ar* is corrected for atmospheric contamination) ranges from 4.9 × 10− 4 to 3.6 × 10− 1, which is below the typical production ratio of the mantle (4He/40Ar* = 1–5); this range is however compatible with this fractional partial melting. The variable 3He/4He and 4He/40Ar* values in Lianshan xenoliths suggest that the local mantle source was also influenced by kinetic fractionation, possibly triggered by metasomatic melts. Metasomatism associated with carbonatitic melts, together with fluxing by CO2-rich fluids, have permeated the mantle beneath Lianshan, generating the observed decoupling between noble gases and trace elements. The interpretative framework is also applicable for other mantle xenoliths from eastern China, indicating that the refertilization of the SCLM by ascending mantle-like melts is common also to YC, which can be identified using noble gases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-303
Number of pages15
JournalGondwana Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Yangtze craton
  • peridotite xenoliths
  • noble gases
  • fluid inclusions
  • mantle refertilization
  • MORB


Dive into the research topics of 'Refertilization of lithospheric mantle beneath the Yangtze craton in south-east China: evidence from noble gases geochemistry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this