The accretionary complex (AC) in the North Qilian belt comprises coherent and chaotic units consisting of bedded cherts, pelagic mudstone, shale, turbidites, basalt, limestone, blueschist, eclogite lenses and ophiolitic mélange. Cherts from the Donggoukou and Biandukou outcrops in the north of the blueschist belt contain abundant Middle Ordovician radiolarians together with rare conodonts. Well-preserved radiolarians also occur in cherts associated with high-pressure/low-temperature rocks in the Baijingsi AC outcrop. Conodonts of Floian–Dapingian age and Middle Ordovician radiolarians also occur in the Shihuigou AC. Geochemical analysis of 23 cherts reveals variable SiO2 contents (74.56–97.16 wt%) and high mean Al/(Al  +  Fe  +  Mn) ratios ranging from 0.35 to 0.85, indicating a non-hydrothermal origin. Ce/Ce* and LaN/YbN ratios of 0.70–1.22 and 0.67–1.59 respectively are high and variable, similar to those of associated muddy siltstone (0.59–0.96 and 1.14–1.55, respectively), suggesting near-trench deposition with associated terrigenous input. Together with the metamorphic ages of blueschists and eclogites, the North Qilian belt AC formed by accretion of ocean plate stratigraphic successions in response to subduction of the Proto-Tethyan Ocean prior to 450 Ma.

Supplementary material: Appendices 1-6 are available at:

Thematic collection: This article is part of the Fold-and-thrust belts collection available at:

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