Accretionary orogens function as major sites for the generation of continental crust, but the growth model of continental crust remains poorly constrained. The Central Asian Orogenic Belt, as one of the most important Phanerozoic accretionary orogens on Earth, has been the focus of debates regarding the proportion of juvenile crust present. Using published geochemical and zircon Hf-O isotopic data sets for three belts in the Eastern Tianshan terrane of the southern Central Asian Orogenic Belt, we first explore the variations in crustal thickness and isotopic composition in response to tectono-magmatic activity over time. Steady progression to radiogenic zircon Hf isotopic signatures associated with syn-collisional crustal thickening indicates enhanced input of mantle-derived material, which greatly contributes to the growth of the continental crust. Using the surface areas and relative increases in crustal thickness as the proxies for magma volumes, in conjunction with the calculated mantle fraction of the mixing flux, we then are able to determine that a volume of ~14–22% of juvenile crust formed in the southern Central Asian Orogenic Belt during the Phanerozoic. This study highlights the validity of using crustal thickness and zircon isotopic signatures of magmatic rocks to quantify the volume of juvenile crust in complex accretionary orogens. With reference to the crustal growth pattern in other accretionary orogens and the Nd-Hf isotopic record at the global scale, our work reconciles the rapid crustal growth in the accretionary orogens with its episodic generation pattern in the formation of global continental crust.

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