Abstract

Permian sedimentary sequences exposed in southern Mongolia record final closure of the paleo–Asian Ocean and suturing of the terranes of northern China with the southern margin of a vast accretionary complex (the Altaids) in Mongolia. Detrital zircon U-Pb geochronology results presented here are the first of their kind in southern Mongolia. Geologic mapping, stratigraphic interpretations, and provenance data including U-Pb zircon geochronology suggest that sedimentary strata at two localities in southern Mongolia, Bulgan Uul and Nomgon, were once part of the same closing ocean basin. The Upper Permian sedimentary deposits at Bulgan Uul record an upward-shallowing marine succession that is unconformably overlain by Lower Triassic fluvial and alluvial strata. The Bulgan Uul marine succession is composed of distal turbidite fan deposits in the lowest portion of the section, with interbedded sandstone and limestone interpreted as shallow-marine deposits at the top of the section. Exposures of Permian-aged distal turbidite units at Nomgon are similar in stratigraphic architecture, sandstone provenance, and detrital zircon age distributions to those documented at Bulgan Uul. Paleocurrent measurements, sandstone provenance data, and U-Pb ages from detrital zircons collected from both study locations document southeastern transport directions for sediment derived from extinct Carboniferous and Ordovician–Silurian arcs of the southern Altaids. Results are consistent with depositional models for remnant ocean basins and indicate diachronous west-to-east closure of the paleo–Asian Ocean (a northern segment of Paleotethys) in the Late Permian. Finally, basin reconstructions place the coeval turbidite deposits at Nomgon to the southeast of Bulgan Uul during the Late Permian. These correlative turbidite successions at Nomgon are currently northeast of Bulgan Uul, offset by ∼250 km of left-lateral strike-slip faulting across the East Gobi fault zone.

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