Abstract

The geochemical composition of the Middle-Upper Proterozoic turbidites in Hunan, South China is related to provenance and tectonic setting of the sedimentary basin. The turbidites are characterized by moderate SiO2 contents (Al2O3/SiO2 typically 0.1-0.3) and moderate K2O/Na2O ratios (generally 0.1-0.3) but relatively high Fe2O3* + MgO contents (5-10 wt %) and unusually low contents of CaO (typically < 1 wt %). Abundances of ferromagnesian trace elements and incompatible elements are moderate. The REE patterns are uniform and similar to the upper continental crust and typical post-Archean shales, with LREE enrichment, flat HREE, and significant negative Eu-anomalies. In general, the slates show higher contents of Fe2O3* + MgO and ferromagnesian trace elements, and lower ratios of La/Sc and Th/Sc than the associated graywackes, suggesting that more mafic materials were incorporated into the clay-size fraction. Compared to the Upper Proterozoic Banxi Group, the Middle Proterozoic Lengjiaxi Group has higher concentrations for most ferromagnesian trace elements and lower La/Sc ratios, implying more mafic components in the provenance of the latter. The relationship among alkali and alkaline earth elements, the Chemical Index of Alteration (CIA), and the Th/U ratios indicate that the source area was affected by a moderate weathering history. The main source was old continental crust (the Yangtze craton) dominated by felsic rocks of magmatic origin, with a variable admixture of mafic components from continental island arcs (e.g., the Fangjingshan-Dayong and the Sibao-Yiyang island arc chains). The flysch deposition took place in a back arc basin, rather than a failed intracontinental rift as proposed by some workers. We suggest that suturing between the Yangtze and Cathaysia blocks did not occur until late Proterozoic time and that the final assembly of the supercontinent Rodinia in South China was probably marked by the Jingning orogeny at ∼0.8 Ga.

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