Triassic deposits in the Bangong-Nujiang Suture Zone are important for understanding its tectonic nature and evolutionary history, but have not been systematically studied due to a lack of biostratigraphic data. For a long time, the Upper Triassic Quehala Group featuring clasolite has been regarded as the only rocky unit. In recent years, the silicite-dominated Gajia Formation that bears radiolarian fossils was suggested to represent Ladinian to Carnian deposits. The Upper Permian and Lower Triassic rocks have never been excavated and thus are considered to be absent. This research, however, reveals that fossils aged from the Late Permian to Anisian of the Middle Triassic and Norian of the Late Triassic have been preserved in the central Bangong-Nujiang Suture Zone, which provides evidence of Upper Permian to early Middle Triassic deposits and provides new insights on the Upper Triassic strata as well. A new Triassic strata succession is thus proposed for the Bangong-Nujiang Suture Zone, and it demonstrates great similarities with those from Lhasa to the south and Qiangtang to the north. Therefore, we deduce that the Bangong-Nujiang Suture Zone was under a similar depositional setting as its two adjacent terranes, and it was likely a carbonate platform background because limestones were predominant across the Triassic. The newly acquired biostratigraphic data indicate that Lhasa and Qiangtang could not have been located on two separate continents with disparate sedimentary settings; therefore, the Bangong-Nujiang Suture Zone likely did not represent a large ocean between them. This conclusion is supported by lithostratigraphic and paleomagnetic research, which revealed that Lhasa and Qiangtang were positioned at low to middle latitudes during the Early Triassic. Combining this conclusion with fossil evidence, we suggest that the three main Tibetan terranes were in the same palaeobiogeographic division with South China, at least during the Latest Permian to Early Triassic. The Early Triassic conodont species Pachycladina obliqua is probably a fossil sign of middle to low latitudes in palaeogeography.

Gold Open Access: This paper is published under the terms of the CC-BY-NC license.
This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.