The newly defined Carboniferous Meishan Group, along the northern margin of the Dabie orogenic belt, provides unique opportunities to document the poorly understood Paleozoic tectonic evolution of the Dabie orogenic belt and the Paleozoic convergence between the North and South China blocks. We apply sandstone petrology, geochemistry, and U-Pb detrital-zircon geochronology to constrain the provenance of the Carboniferous Meishan Group and to document its potential tectonic significance. We conclude that the Meishan Group received most sediment directly from early Paleozoic continental island arc rocks that are currently missing in the Dabie orogenic belt, with minor contributions from middle Neoproterozoic magmatic rocks of the South China Block and recycling of Archean to Proterozoic basement rocks of both the North and South China blocks. Compilation and comparison of detrital zircons and geochemistry data of the Silurian–Devonian and Carboniferous units suggests that all of them share similar source areas, but that individual contributions from each source were different. These results support the hypothesis that the Dabie orogenic belt developed a similar Paleozoic accretionary system, and shares a similar tectonic history, with the Qinling orogenic belt. These provenance patterns can be explained by a model of oblique convergence between the North and South China blocks during the Paleozoic. The South China Block was obliquely subducted beneath the North China Block with its opening to the east, forming an eastward-widening sedimentary basin. As a result, the eastern part of the basin received more sediment from the northern passive margin of the South China Block, while the western part of the basin received more material from the southern active margin of the North China Block.

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