Triassic rejuvenation of unexposed Archean-Paleoproterozoic deep crust beneath the western Cathaysia block, South China

Xi-Yao Li, Jian-Ping Zheng*, Qing Xiong, Xiang Zhou, Lu Xiang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Jurassic (ca. 150 Ma) Daoxian basalts from the western Cathaysia block (South China) entrained a suite of deep-seated crustal xenoliths, including felsic schist, gneiss and granulite, and mafic two-pyroxene granulite and metagabbro. Zircon U–Pb–Hf isotopic, whole-rock elemental and Sr–Nd–Pb isotopic compositions have been determined for these valuable xenoliths to reveal the poorly-known, unexposed deep crust beneath South China. Detrital zircons from the garnet-biotite schists show several populations of ages at 0.65–0.5 Ga, 1.1–0.75 Ga, 1.6–1.4 Ga, 1.8–1.7 Ga, 2.5–2.4 Ga, ~2.8 Ga, and ~3.5 Ga, representing a multi-sourced, meta-sedimentary origin with deposition time at the early Cambrian. One mafic granulite contains zircons with concordant U–Pb ages of Neoarchean (~2520 Ma), as well as Hf model ages of 2.8–2.6 Ga and positive εHf(t) values (up to 6.3), suggesting an accretion of juvenile crust in Neoarchean, probably as the main framework of the lower crust. Geochemical and geochronological evidence shows the mafic granulite and metagabbro were produced by underplating of magmas derived from the depleted asthenosphere and mixed with EM2-type materials during the Late Triassic (205–196 Ma). This magmatic underplating also resulted in the widespread metamorphism of the mafic lower crust and felsic middle crust (e.g., the felsic granulite and gneiss) at 202–201 Ma. We suggest the existence of a highly evolved Archean-Paleoproterozoic basement beneath the western Cathaysia block, which experienced episodic accretion and reworking and the strong rejuvenation during the Triassic. A three-layered structure of the lower crust could exist beneath the Daoxian area during the Jurassic time: its upper layer is an evolved Archean-Paleoproterozoic basement; the middle hybrid layer represents a mixture of Archean-Paleoproterozoic basement with newly accreted/reworked Proterozoic to Phanerozoic materials; and the deeper layer consists of mafic granulites derived from the intensive magmatic underplating during the Triassic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-79
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2018


  • Cathaysia block
  • Crustal xenolith
  • Basement
  • Triassic
  • Magmatic underplating
  • Crustal structure


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