The chemical-temporal evolution of lithospheric mantle underlying the North China Craton

Fu Yuan Wu*, Richard J. Walker, Yue Heng Yang, Hong Lin Yuan, Jin Hui Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

327 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies of samples of subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM) that underlay the North China Craton (NCC) during the Paleozoic have documented the presence of thick Archean SCLM at this time. In contrast, samples of SCLM underlying the NCC during the Cenozoic are characterized by evidence for melt depletion during the Proterozoic, and relatively recent juvenile additions to the lithosphere. These observations, coupled with geophysical evidence for relatively thin lithosphere at present, have led to the conclusion that the SCLM underlying the NCC was thinned and modified subsequent to the late Paleozoic. In order to extend the view into both the Paleozoic and modern SCLM underlying the NCC, we examine mantle xenoliths and xenocrystic chromites extracted from three Paleozoic kimberlites (Tieling, Fuxian and Mengyin), and mantle xenoliths extracted from one Cenozoic basaltic center (Kuandian). Geochemical data suggest that most of the Kuandian xenoliths are residues of small degrees of partial melting from chemically primitive mantle. Sr-Nd-Hf isotopic analyses indicate that the samples were removed from long-term depleted SCLM that had later been variably enriched in incompatible elements. Osmium isotopic compositions of the two most refractory xenoliths are depleted relative to the modern convecting upper mantle and have model melt depletion ages that indicate melt depletion during Paleoproterozoic. Other relatively depleted xenoliths have Os isotopic compositions consistent with the modern convecting upper mantle. This observation is generally consistent with earlier data for xenoliths from other Cenozoic volcanic systems in the NCC and surrounding cratons. Thus, the present SCLM underlying the NCC has a complex age structure, but does not appear to retain materials with Archean melt depletion ages. Results for what are presumed to be early Paleozoic xenoliths from Teiling are generally highly depleted in melt components, e.g. have low Al2O3, but have also been metasomatically altered. Enrichment in light rare earth elements, low εNd values (∼-10), and relatively high 87Sr/86Sr (0.707-0.710) are consistent with a past episode of metasomatism. Despite the metasomatic event, 187Os/188Os ratios are low and consistent with a late Archean melt depletion event. Thus, like results for xenoliths from other early Paleozoic volcanic centers within the NCC, these rocks sample dominantly Archean SCLM. The mechanism for lithospheric thinning is still uncertain. The complex age structure currently underlying the NCC requires either variable melt depletion over the entire history of this SCLM, or the present lithospheric material was partly or wholly extruded under the NCC from elsewhere by the plate collisions (collision with the Yangtze Craton and/or NNW subduction of the Pacific plate) that may have caused the thinning to take place.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5013-5034
Number of pages22
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


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