Exposures of enclave-bearing granitoids can provide rare opportunities to directly evaluate the connection between compositional variability and the depth of origin of arc magmatic rocks. The ~1000 km long Gangdese batholith is a composite batholith with composition from mafic to felsic; SiO2 ranges from 51 wt% to 70 wt%. New zircon U–Pb dating of the Nyemo plutons, Renbu plutons, and Xigaze plutons in the Gangdese batholith is consistent with their emplacement and crystallization in the Late Cretaceous (ca. 90–85 Ma). Mafic magmatic enclaves (MMEs) in the plutons are characterized by low SiO2 (50.9–56.0 wt%) and Nb/U, Ce/Pb, and Nb/La ratios coupled with enrichment in light rare earth elements and large ion lithophile elements and depletion in high field strength elements. These geochemical features, combined with depleted whole-rock εNd(t) (+4.2 to +4.7) and zircon εHf(t) (+9.0 to +13.8), suggest that they were derived by partial melting of a depleted mantle source associated with subduction-related fluids. The granitoids with high SiO2 (55.6–66.9 wt%) display adakitic geochemical characteristics, such as low Y and Yb contents, and high Sr/Y and La/Yb ratios. Their positive whole-rock εNd(t) (+4.0 to +5.5) and zircon εHf(t) (+6.9 to +14.3) values, as well as enrichment of incompatible elements, indicate that the granitoids were derived from partial melting of the juvenile lower crust. Geochemical modeling suggests that the compositional diversities of MMEs and adakitic granitoids were inherited from heterogeneous sources. This genetic relationship indicates that the underplated basaltic magmas could have supplied sufficient heat to trigger the melting of the thickened crust and thus formation of the enclave-bearing granitoid. In this regard, the origin of arc rocks can mirror the evolution of crustal thickness. Our results reveal that the crust was thickened to ~50 km during the Late Cretaceous (90–85 Ma) and provide a magmatic record of crustal thickening prior to the Cenozoic Indo-Asia collision.

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