Identifying source orogens for syn-orogenic sediments in dispersed fragments of a supercontinent provides key information on the tectonic evolution of the orogens involved in supercontinent assembly and on paleogeographic reconstruction. An approach using U-Pb geochronology and trace elements of multiple detrital minerals including zircon, rutile, apatite, and monazite has major advantages over detrital zircon studies alone. Application of this multi-pronged approach to Ediacaran and Cambrian clastic sedimentary rocks from the West Cathaysia terrane of the South China block demonstrates that these rocks were deposited in two distinct, but overlapping, syn-orogenic basins related to the assembly of eastern Gondwana. The Ediacaran rocks have detritus likely sourced from the Paterson-Petermann orogen (PPO) in Australia, and the dominant 650−600 Ma populations and trace element compositions of detrital rutile and apatite indicate a significant Ediacaran thermal and high-pressure metamorphic event in the orogen. The appearance of Cambrian and Tonian detrital rutile and apatite populations in the Cambrian rocks indicates derivation from a different source orogen characterized by multiple thermal events, most likely the Kuunga-Pinjarra orogen (KPO). Our data suggest that West Cathaysia was located adjacent to both the PPO and the KPO and support the hypothesis that the PPO was a collisional, rather than a long-lived post-Grenvillian intraplate, orogen. Our data also suggest a poly-metamorphic history for the poorly preserved northern part of the KPO and a larger expanse of Greater India.

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