The tectonic setting of the southwestern Sichuan foreland basin, China, changed rapidly during the Paleogene period, and records from this period may provide crucial information about the formation and tectonic processes that affected the Sichuan Basin. To constrain the provenance and to reconstruct the paleogeography of the Paleogene successions, we conducted a detailed analysis of the petrology, geochronology, and sedimentary facies of rocks from the southwestern Sichuan foreland basin. The detrital components of the three analyzed sandstone samples indicate moderately to highly mature sediment that was primarily derived from a recycled orogen provenance. Five major age populations were identified in the U-Pb age spectra: Neoarchean to Siderian (2524−2469 Ma and 2019−1703 Ma), Neoproterozoic (Tonian to Cryogenian, 946−653 Ma), Ordovician to Carboniferous (Katian to lower Pennsylvanian, 448−321 Ma), and Carboniferous to Triassic (306−201 Ma). Each of these age populations corresponds to one or several potential sources around the southwestern Sichuan foreland basin. A multidimensional scaling analysis indicated that the Paleogene zircons were mainly derived from recycled sediments of the Songpan-Ganzi terrane and the Sichuan Basin, with minor input from the Yidun terrane, Kangdian terrane, Qinling orogenic belt, and Jiangnan-Xuefeng orogenic belt. More specifically, the sediment supply from the Songpan-Ganzi terrane to the foreland basin decreased significantly from the Mingshan stage to the Lushan stage, and the Sichuan Basin simultaneously became the most important source area. In addition, there is a high correlation between the detrital zircon U-Pb age spectrum of the southwestern Sichuan Basin and that of the Xichang Basin, which may suggest that a wider and unified Paleo-Yangtze Basin existed during the Late Cretaceous-early Paleogene.

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