Permian–Triassic boundary (PTB) volcanic ash beds are widely distributed in South China and were proposed to have a connection with the PTB mass extinction and the assemblage of Pangea. However, their source and tectonic affinity have been highly debated. We present zircon U–Pb ages, trace-element and Hf isotopic data on three new-found PTB volcanic ash beds in the western Hubei area, South China. Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry U–Pb dating of zircons yields ages of 252.2 ± 3.6 Ma, 251.6 ± 4.9 Ma and 250.4 ± 2.4 Ma for these three volcanic ash beds. Zircons of age c. 240–270 Ma zircons have negative εHf(t) values (–18.17 to –3.91) and Mesoproterozoic–Palaeoproterozoic two-stage Hf model ages (THf2) (1.33–2.23 Ga). Integrated with other PTB ash beds in South China, zircon trace-element signatures and Hf isotopes indicate that they were likely sourced from intermediate to felsic volcanic centres along the Simao–Indochina convergent continental margin. The Qinling convergent continental margin might be another possible source but needs further investigation. Our data support the model that strong convergent margin volcanism took place around South China during late Permian – Early Triassic time, especially in the Simao–Indochina active continental margin and possibly the Qinling active continental margin. These volcanisms overlap temporally with the PTB biocrisis triggered by the Siberian Large Igneous Province. In addition, our data argue that the South China Craton and the Simao–Indochina block had not been amalgamated with the main body of Pangea by late Permian – Early Triassic time.

You do not currently have access to this article.