The initiation of a continental rift or the birth of an oceanic basin, and their long-term evolution, are challenges in the understanding of the evolution of regional and global tectonics. Rifts develop within the interior or margins of plates, essentially as extensional structures, and they have been studied widely since the discovery of plate tectonics. The eastern segment of the Paleo-Tethys traversed central Asia, its structural features, timing, geological setting, and geodynamic mechanisms are poorly understood. The Songpan-Garze Terrane (SGT) on the northeastern Tibetan Plateau has been regarded as either a remnant of the Paleo-Tethys Ocean or a continental rift basin. Different interpretations of the SGT lead to various tectonic reconstructions between Gondwana and Laurasia. Here, sedimentology, geochemistry, and geochronology have been applied to the southern and northern parts of the SGT to reconstruct the initiation of a Permian rift system. In this area, for the first time, field investigation reveals that the SGT is characterized by a continuous succession of Permian−Lower Triassic terrestrial-neritic deposits and ocean island basalt (OIB)-type basalts, and that it developed as an intracontinental rift basin in the Yangtze Block. Zircons from gabbros with OIB-type geochemical signatures intruded in the southern SGT yield U-Pb ages of 263−254 Ma, constraining the timing of the initial rifting. Proterozoic felsic rocks collected from the southern SGT yield U-Pb ages of 761−865 Ma, and they are petrologically and geochemically comparable to Neoproterozoic basement rocks along the western margin of the Yangtze Block. The Middle−Late Permian volcano-sedimentary sequences of the SGT and their geochemistry and geochronology are comparable to rift sequences in the Panxi region of the western Yangtze Block. Thus, it has been proposed that the SGT originated as an intracontinental rift within the Yangtze Block during the Middle Permian−Early Triassic, and that it continued to deepen as a rift basin through the Middle−Late Triassic.

This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.
You do not have access to this content, please speak to your institutional administrator if you feel you should have access.