The petrogenesis of Nb-enriched basalts (NEBs) is controversial. NEBs are generally considered to form by melting of either a mixed enriched and depleted mantle source or a mantle wedge metasomatized by adakitic melts. Here we present geochronological, petrological, geochemical, and Sr-Nd-Os isotope data for Early Permian volcanic rocks from the Tuotuohe area in the northern Qiangtang Terrane, China. The studied volcanic rocks can be divided into two groups: arc basalts and basaltic andesites in the lower sequence and NEBs in the upper sequence. Zircon grains from one basaltic andesite sample in the lower sequence yielded a concordia age of 302.0 ± 1.1 Ma. The geochemical and isotopic characteristics suggest that the NEBs were derived from a mixed source consisting of enriched mid-oceanic ridge basalts (MORB)- to oceanic-island basalt-like ambient mantle and slab-derived fluids, whereas the arc basalts and basaltic andesites originated from a source made of the MORB-type ambient mantle modified by slab-derived melts. We propose for the first time that the Nb enrichment of the NEBs was most likely inherited from high-Nb ambient mantle and is independent of the addition of slab-derived components. In addition to slab-derived components, the nature of the ambient mantle is also an important factor controlling the diversity of arc magmatism. Our new findings show that the Late Carboniferous−Early Permian magmatism in the northern Qiangtang Terrane was related to northward subduction of the Paleo-Tethys Ocean, suggesting that subduction might have occurred in at least the Early Permian rather than in the previously thought Middle Permian.

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