The Nan River suture zone consists of a belt of ophiolitic mafic and ultramafic rocks formed in a back-arc or inter-arc setting, and metasedimentary rocks including epidote-crossite blueschists that may represent an inner-trench sequence. These rocks are probably pre-Permian in age. The Nan River belt forms part of the suture between the Indosinian and Shan-Thai cratonic blocks and is inferred to correlate with the Changning-Shuangjiang suture zone in southern China.

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