Geochronological, geochemical and Nd-Hf-Os isotopic fingerprinting of an early Neoproterozoic arc-back-arc system in South China and its accretionary assembly along the margin of Rodinia

Yuejun Wang*, Aimei Zhang, Peter A. Cawood, Weiming Fan, Jifeng Xu, Guowei Zhang, Yuzhi Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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U-Pb geochronology along with elemental and Nd-Hf-Os isotopic data from the earliest Neoproterozoic metabasic rocks within the Cathaysia Block of the South China Block (SCB) constrain the tectonic setting and paleogeography of the block within the Rodinia supercontinent. The metabasic rocks give zircon U-Pb ages of 969-984 Ma, epsilon(Hf)(t) values of +1.8 to +15.3 and Hf model ages of 0.92-1.44 Ga. They are subalkaline basalts that can be geochemically classified into four groups. Group 1 has low Nb contents (1.24-4.33 ppm), highly positive epsilon(Nd)(t) values (+4.3 to +5.2), and REE and multi-elemental patterns similar to fore-arc MORB-type basalt. Group 2 has Nb contents ranging from 3.13 ppm to 6.48 ppm, epsilon(Nd)(t) of +3.1 to +6.2, low Re and Os contents and high initial Os isotopic ratios, and displays an E-MORB geochemical signature. Group 3 has Nb = 7.18-29.87 ppm, Nb/La = 0.60-1.40, Nb/U = 5.0-37, Ce/Pb = 1.1-6.6, epsilon(Nd)( t) = +2.9 to +7.0, Re-187/Os-188 = 5.87-8.87 and gamma Os (t) = 178-772, geochemically resembling to the Pickle Nb-enriched basalt. Group 4 has strong LREE/HREE and HREE fractionation and high epsilon(Nd)(t) values (+2.3 to +5.6), and is characterized by similar element patterns to arc volcanic rocks. Serpentinites coeval to Group 4 show Os-187/Os-188 of 0.1143-0.1442 and gamma Os (t) of -7.8 to +0.1. Groups 1 and 2 are interpreted to originate from the N-MORB and E-MORB-like sources with the addition of an arc-like component, genetically linked to fore- and back-arc settings, respectively. Groups 3 and 4 show inputs of newly subduction-derived melt and fluid in the wedge source. These geochronological and geochemical signatures fingerprint the development of an earliest Neoproterozoic (similar to 970 Ma) arc-back-arc system along the Wuyi-Yunkai domain of the Cathaysia Block. Regional relationships indicate that the Wuyi-Yunkai arc-back-arc system was one of a series of separate convergent margin settings, which included the Shuangxiwu (similar to 970-880 Ma) and Jiangnan (similar to 870-820 Ma) systems that developed in the SCB. The formation and closure of these arc-back-arc systems resulted in the northwestwardly episodic amalgamation of various pieces of the Yangtze and Cathaysia to finally form the SCB. These signatures require the SCB to occupy an exterior accretionary orogen along the periphery of Rodinia during 990-820 Ma, rather than to have formed through Mesoproterozoic Sibao orogenesis within the interior of Rodinia. (c) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-371
Number of pages29
JournalPrecambrian Research
Early online date6 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Metabasic rocks
  • MORB and/or arc-like geochemical signatures
  • Earliest Neoproterozoic
  • Arc and back-arc system
  • Eastern South China Block
  • Periphery of Rodinia
  • High-field strength
  • PB zircon geochronology
  • Enriched basalt-andesites
  • Intraplate-type magmatism
  • Abitibi greenstone-belt
  • Archean subduction zone
  • U-PB
  • Volcanic-rocks
  • Cathaysia block
  • Island-arc


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