The Tarim craton in modern Central Asia was an important component of the supercontinent Rodinia in the Neoproterozoic, although its paleogeography in Rodinia during that era is still controversial. Here, we present new stratigraphic, geochemical, and geochronological data from the Neoproterozoic sedimentary and volcanic rock successions along the northwestern margin of the Tarim craton and discuss the significance of these data and our interpretations for its tectonic evolution and paleogeographic position within Rodinia. The Lower Ediacaran sedimentary sequence (Sugetbrak Formation) in northwest Tarim includes terrestrial and shallow-marine clastic rocks intercalated with two discrete basaltic lava flows near the top. The Upper Ediacaran sedimentary sequence conformably overlying the volcanic and clastic rocks consists mainly of stromatolitic dolomite (Chigebrak Formation), representing a transgressive shallow-marine environment. Previous U-Pb zircon dating of the basaltic lava flows has constrained the timing of their eruption in the early Ediacaran (615 Ma). Detrital zircon U-Pb dating of a feldspar-quartz-sandstone unit situated between the two lava flows revealed an oldest age of 2517 ± 18 Ma and a youngest age of 612 ± 6 Ma, with a majority of zircon grains (n = 42) dated at 891−754 Ma (Tonian). A quartz-sandstone unit above the upper lava flow revealed an oldest age of 2724 ± 15 Ma and a youngest age of 607 ± 8 Ma, with a missing age group of 891−800 Ma. These data and observations indicate: (1) a major switch in the depositional setting from a terrestrial (synrifting) to shallow-marine environment following the eruption of the upper lava unit; and (2) an abrupt disappearance of the source rocks of the 891−800 Ma zircons and sediments from the provenance of the post-615 Ma (postrifting) sedimentary sequence. The basaltic rocks have low SiO2 and MgO but high total Fe2O3 and TiO2 contents (2.34−3.19 wt%), analogous to high-Ti basalts and continental flood basalts. Their Ti/V ratios (65−88), low Th/Nb ratios (∼0.1), and high TiO2/Yb ratios (∼1.1) are similar to those of ocean-island basalt (OIB). Combined with their Sm/Yb and La/Sm ratios and Sr-Nd-Pb-Hf isotope values, we infer that magmas of the Sugetbrak basalts were likely derived from partial melting of an enriched mantle source (EM I) in a transitional spinel-garnet lherzolite field. This petrogenetic evolution was a result of mantle plume−influenced rift magmatism during the Ediacaran breakup of Rodinia. The Central Tianshan terrane, which was attached to the northern Tarim craton until the Ediacaran Period, was the provenance of 891−800 Ma (Tonian) zircons in the synrift sedimentary succession. As the Central Tianshan terrane broke away from the Tarim craton after ca. 615 Ma, Tonian-aged zircons were no longer available to the depocenter of the postrift sedimentary sequence. The transition from rifting to drifting between the Tarim craton and the Central Tianshan terrane marked the final breakup of Rodinia, a global event that was possibly driven by mantle plume activities coeval with the development of the Central Iapetus magmatic province in Laurentia during the Ediacaran.
Ediacaran magmatism and rifting along the northern margin of the Tarim craton: Implications for the late Neoproterozoic Rodinia configuration and breakup
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Hong-Xiang Wu, Yildirim Dilek, Feng-Qi Zhang, Han-Lin Chen, Huan Chen, Cai-Yun Wang, Xiu-Bin Lin, Xiao-Gan Cheng; Ediacaran magmatism and rifting along the northern margin of the Tarim craton: Implications for the late Neoproterozoic Rodinia configuration and breakup. GSA Bulletin 2022; doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/B36305.1
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