The Dunhuang block, situated at the junction of the Tethyan domain, Tarim craton, North China craton and the Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB), consists mainly of Archean–early Mesoproterozoic basement rocks and Paleozoic metamorphic and magmatic rocks. In this study we performed systematic analyses on the Duobagou metaigneous rocks, including zircon U-Pb ages and Hf isotopes and whole-rock geochemistry, to discuss the evolutionary history of the Dunhuang block and the surrounding continental fragments during the Paleozoic.
The metaigneous rocks in the Duobagou area have been identified to be amphibole plagiogneisses, amphibolites, and biotite plagiogneisses; the first two are classified as metamafic rocks, and the latter are metafelsic rocks. The whole-rock major and trace element and Sm-Nd isotopic compositions suggest that the amphibole plagiogneisses were probably produced by the fractionation of the amphibolites, and their protoliths were formed from a mantle wedge, which was associated with the emplacement of subduction-related arc basaltic magmas. The biotite plagiogneisses have geochemical affinities to typical Phanerozoic arc volcanic rocks, and in combination with the Nd-Hf isotopic compositions, these indicate that they were derived from island-arc magmas with varying degrees of crustal contamination. The Duobagou amphibole plagiogneisses and amphibolites have metamorphic ages of 425 ± 31 Ma and 442 ± 2 Ma, respectively, that are in agreement with the crystallization age (436 ± 5 Ma) of the biotite plagiogneisses. The geochemical and geochronological features of these metafelsic rocks provide substantial evidence of a major subduction-related Paleozoic magmatic event in the Duobagou area of the Dunhuang block.
The available data illustrate that the accretionary orogenesis in the Dunhuang block may have continued to the Carboniferous, and those in the Beishan orogenic belt most likely lasted until the Permian. However, those recorded in the North Altun–Qilian orogenic belt probably ended in the Ordovician. The temporal-spatial distributions of the orogeny-related metamorphic-magmatic rocks in the Dunhuang block seemingly match well with those in the CAOB, supporting the interpretation that the Dunhuang block was most likely involved in the orogenic activities of the CAOB during the Paleozoic.