The Qinling orogen was formed by the joining of the North and South China blocks, but the timing of their integration has been debated for more than a decade. The controversies obviously stem from different approaches to reconstruction of the integration history. Two contrasting lines of evidence yield two different ages for collision of the North and South China blocks—middle Paleozoic and Late Triassic. The Shangdan suture within the Qinling was regarded in previous studies as the trace along which the North and South China blocks collided. Our studies, however, demonstrate that there are two sutures within the Qinling: the well-documented Shangdan suture and the newly discovered Mianlue suture. We show in this paper that the Late Proterozoic to early Mesozoic evolution of the Qinling involved interactions between the North China block, the North and South Qinling orogens, and the South China block. The middle Paleozoic collision along the Shangdan suture, as constrained by some evidence, accreted only the South Qinling orogen to the southern part (i.e., the North Qinling) of the North China block. Contemporaneous rifting of the South China block and subsequent drifting separated the South Qinling from the South China block during the middle to late Paleozoic. The separation of the South from the North China blocks is supported by other evidence, in particular, geomagnetic data. Evidently it was the Late Triassic collision of the South China block with the South Qinling orogen along the Mianlue suture that led to final integration of the North and South China blocks.

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