The comprehensive investigation of orogenic-related litho-structural assemblages, metamorphism, and geochronology in early Precambrian orogens can help us better understand the features of plate tectonics in early Earth. The Paleoproterozoic Aketashitage orogenic belt is located at a key position in northwestern China and connects the North China craton, Tarim craton, Altaids orogen, and Tethys orogen. Garnet-bearing mafic and paragneissic granulite occur as interlayers or blocks preserved within paragneissic matrix, and two to three generations of metamorphic mineral assemblages were identified. Geothermobarometry and pseudosection modeling yielded clockwise metamorphic P-T paths passing from 7.5‒8.6 kbar/575‒715 °C (M1) through 7.4‒12.2 kbar/715‒895 °C (M2) and finally to 5.2‒7.3 kbar/710‒800 °C (M3) for the mafic and paragneissic granulite as well as amphibolite, which is indicative of metamorphic features of subduction/collision zones. Peak metamorphic P-T conditions of all the samples lie in the medium P/T facies series, suggesting that the thermal gradient (∼20‒31 °C/km) of this Paleoproterozoic orogenic belt was obviously higher than most of the Phanerozoic subduction zones. Secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) U-Pb dating of zircon and monazite yielded metamorphic ages of ca. 1.98−1.96 Ga in the eastern part of the orogen, ca. 1.86−1.85 Ga in the western part, and a maximum depositional age of ca. 2.06 Ga for paragneiss. Compared with previous studies, the Aketashitage orogen is composed of unordered juxtaposition of diverse, subduction-related tectono-metamorphic blocks with different protoliths, metamorphic grades, and ages preserved within the paragneissic matrix deposited in the Paleoproterozoic, which is highly similar to Phanerozoic mélange. A Paleoproterozoic subduction-metamorphic-exhumation-accretionary process was deciphered, similar to that found in accretionary/orogenic wedge in Phanerozoic orogens. The juxtaposition of diverse, subduction-related tectonic blocks with contrasting ages and metamorphic features can serve as a marker of early Precambrian orogens and plate tectonics.
Juxtaposition of diverse, subduction-related tectonic blocks with contrasting metamorphic features and ages in the Paleoproterozoic Aketashitage orogen, NW China: Implications for Precambrian orogeny
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Qian W.L. Zhang, Jia-Hui Liu, Zhen M.G. Li, Meng-Yan Shi, Yi-Chao Chen, Chun-Ming Wu; Juxtaposition of diverse, subduction-related tectonic blocks with contrasting metamorphic features and ages in the Paleoproterozoic Aketashitage orogen, NW China: Implications for Precambrian orogeny. GSA Bulletin 2020; doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/B35766.1
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