The Phanerozoic history of the Paleo-Asian, Tethyan, and Pacific oceanic domains is important for unraveling the tectonic evolution of the Eurasian and Laurentian continents. The validity of existing models that account for the development and closure of the Paleo-Asian and Tethyan Oceans critically depends on the assumed initial configuration and relative positions of the Precambrian cratons that separate the two oceanic domains, including the North China, Tarim, Karakum, Turan, and southern Baltica cratons. Existing studies largely neglect the Phanerozoic tectonic modification of these Precambrian cratons (e.g., the effects of India-Arabia-Eurasia convergence and post-Rodinia rifting). In this work we systematically restore these effects and evaluate the tectonic relationships among these cratons to test the hypothesis that the Baltica, Turan, Karakum, Tarim, and North China cratons were linked in the Neoproterozoic as a single continental strip, with variable along-strike widths. Because most of the tectonic boundaries currently separating these cratons postdate the closure of the Paleo-Asian and Tethyan Oceans, we are able to establish a >6000-km-long Neoproterozoic contiguous continent referred to here as Balkatach (named from the Baltica–Karakum–Tarim–North China connection). By focusing on the regional geologic history of Balkatach’s continental margins, we propose the following tectonic model for the initiation and evolution of the Paleo-Asian, Tethyan, and Pacific oceanic domains and the protracted amalgamation and growth history of the Eurasian continent. (1) The early Neoproterozoic collision of the combined Baltica–Turan–Karakum–South Tarim continents with the linked North Tarim–North China cratons led to the formation of a coherent Balkatach continent. (2) Rifting along Balkatach’s margins in the late Neoproterozoic resulted in the opening of the Tethyan Ocean to the south and unified Paleo-Asian and Pacific Oceans to the north (present-day coordinates). This process led to the detachment of Balkatach-derived microcontinents that drifted into the newly formed Paleo-Asian Ocean. (3) The rifted microcontinents acted as nuclei for subduction systems whose development led to the eventual demise of the Paleo-Asian Ocean during the formation of the Central Asian Orogenic System (CAOS). Closure of this ocean within an archipelago-arc subduction system was accommodated by counterclockwise rotation of the Balkatach continental strip around the CAOS. (4) Initial collision of central Balkatach and the amalgamated arcs and microcontinents of the CAOS in the mid-Carboniferous was followed by a bidirectional propagation of westward and eastward suturing. (5) The closure of the Paleo-Asian Ocean in the early Permian was accompanied by a widespread magmatic flare up, which may have been related to the avalanche of the subducted oceanic slabs of the Paleo-Asian Ocean across the 660 km phase boundary in the mantle. (6) The closure of the Paleo-Tethys against the southern margin of Balkatach proceeded diachronously, from west to east, in the Triassic–Jurassic.

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