The Early Permian Tarim large igneous province (LIP) in northwestern China comprises voluminous basaltic lava flows, as well as ultramafic and silicic intrusions. The age and duration of the Tarim LIP remains unclear, and thus the rate of magma production and models of potential environmental effects are uncertain. Here we present high-precision chemical abrasion−isotope dilution−thermal ionization mass spectrometry zircon U-Pb ages for three newly discovered tuff layers interlayered with lava flows in the Kupukuziman and Kaipaizileike formations in the Keping area (Xinjiang, northwest China). The volcanism of the Kupukuziman Formation is constrained to a short duration from 289.77 ± 0.95 to 289.41 ± 0.52 Ma. An age for the overlying Kaipaizileike Formation is 284.27 ± 0.39 Ma, bracketing the duration of the entire eruptive phase of the Tarim flood basalts at ∼5.5 m.y. The low eruption rate and relatively long duration of magmatism is consistent with a plume incubation model for the Tarim LIP.

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