Transpressional shear zones commonly occur in ancient and modern convergent plate boundaries to accommodate oblique plate convergence. The early Paleozoic Qilian orogen in northeastern Tibet records the subduction of Proto-Tethyan Ocean lithosphere and the accretion-collision of various magmatic arcs and continental terranes. This study focused on the Datong ductile shear zone, which represents the central part of the WNW-ESE−striking ductile shear zone along the northern margin of the Qilian block in the Qilian orogen. This structure bears key information about the evolution of oblique convergence during the early Paleozoic orogeny. The kinematics and timing of the Datong ductile shear zone were investigated via field-based, microstructural, and mica 40Ar/39Ar dating analyses. Mesostructural and microstructural data showed predominantly dextral strike-slip shearing within the Datong ductile shear zone. Microstructural features and quartz c-axis crystallographic preferred orientation patterns indicated that dextral ductile shearing occurred under lower-amphibolite-facies conditions (∼500−550 °C and ∼5.6 kbar) within the shear zone. Microstructures of quartz showed subgrain rotation (SGR) and grain boundary migration (GBM), suggesting dislocation creep−dominated deformation. A strain rate of 10−12 s−1 and a differential stress of 25−39 MPa were estimated by the rheological flow law and quartz paleopiezometry. Finite strain measurements indicated that all deformed rocks of the Datong ductile shear zone exhibit a weakly oblate ellipsoid near the plane strain. Kinematic vorticity (ranging 0.47−0.83) analysis suggested the coexistence of simple shear and pure shear strains within the Datong ductile shear zone, indicating a transpressional setting. Biotite and muscovite 40Ar/39Ar data showed that transpressional shearing deformation started in the Ordovician (before 453 Ma) and lasted to the Silurian (ca. 430 Ma). Our new data combined with regional geological data show that the deformation type, kinematics, and dynamics of the Datong ductile shear zone were controlled by the southward oblique subduction of the Paleo-Qilian Ocean (Proto-Tethyan Ocean) and the following oblique collision between the Qilian block and the Alxa block. The intensive transpressional deformation along the northern Qilian block may reflect strong coupling between the subducting Paleo-Qilian oceanic slab and the overriding Qilian block as well as a high degree of convergence obliquity during the ongoing early Paleozoic convergence.

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