Abstract

We present evidence from zircons entrained within lower-crustal xenoliths in the Cenozoic Hannuoba Basalt of multiple melting events beneath the North China craton in the late Mesozoic. Peak activity was between 180 and 80 Ma, the upper crustal signature of which was the generation of voluminous granitoids and related volcanic rocks, emplacement of dioritic and lamprophyric dikes, and widespread gold mineralization. The process involved partial loss of mantle lithosphere, accompanied by wholesale rising of asthenospheric mantle beneath eastern China. We correlate these events with lithospheric thinning resulting from the breakup and dispersal of Gondwanaland, accompanied by a major mantle overturn, fueled by the destruction of oceanic lithosphere and triggered by its sinking into the lower mantle during the subsequent accretion of Asia.

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