Continental arcs in active continental margins (especially deep-seated arc magmatism, anatexis, and metamorphism) can be extremely significant in evaluating continent building processes. In this contribution, a Paleozoic continental arc section is constructed based on coeval granulite-facies metamorphism, anatexis, and magmatism on the northern margin of the Qilian Block, which record two significant episodes of continental crust growth. The deeper layer of the lower crust mainly consists of medium-high pressure mafic and felsic granulites, with apparent peak pressure-temperature conditions of 11−13 kbar and 800−950 °C, corresponding to crustal depths of ∼35−45 km. The high-pressure mafic granulite and local garnet-cumulate represent mafic residues via dehydration melting involving breakdown of amphibole with anatectic garnet growth. Zircon U-Pb geochronology indicates that these high-grade metamorphic rocks experienced peak granulite-facies metamorphism at ca. 450 Ma. In the upper layer of the lower crust, the most abundant rocks are preexisting garnet-bearing metasedimentary rocks, orthogneiss, and local garnet amphibolite, which experienced medium-pressure amphibolite-facies to granulite-facies metamorphism at depths of 20−30 km at ca. 450 Ma. These metasedimentary rocks and orthogneiss have also experienced partial melting involving mica and rare amphibole at 457−453 Ma. The shallow to mid-crust is primarily composed of diorite-granodiorite batholiths and volcanic cover with multiple origin, which were intruded during 500−450 Ma, recording long-term crustal growth and differentiation episode. As a whole, two episodes of continental crust growth were depicted in the continental arc section on the northern margin of the Qilian Block, including: (a) the first episode is documented in a lithological assemblage composing of coeval mafic-intermediate intrusive and volcanic rocks derived from partial melting of modified lithospheric mantle and subducted oceanic crust during southward subduction of the North Qilian Ocean at 500−480 Ma; (b) the second episode is recorded in mafic rocks derived from partial melting of modified lithospheric mantle during transition from oceanic subduction to initial collision at 460−450 Ma.

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