U-Pb Zircon Geochronology of Coesite-bearing Eclogites from the Southern Dulan Area of the North Qaidam UHP Terrane, Northwestern China: Spatially and Temporally Extensive UHP Metamorphism during Continental Subduction

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Coesite-bearing eclogites from >100 km in the southern Dulan area, North Qaidam Mountains (NQM) of western China, contain zircon that records protolith crystallization and ultra high pressure (UHP) metamorphism. Sensitive High-Resolution Ion Microprobe (Mass Spectrometer) and Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry U-Pb analyses from cathodoluminescence (CL)-dark zircon cores in a coesite-bearing eclogite yield an upper intercept age of 838 ± 50 Ma, and oscillatory zoned cores in a kyanite-bearing eclogite gave a weighted mean Pb/U age of 832 ± 20 Ma. These zircon cores yield steep heavy rare earth element (HREE) slopes and negative Eu anomalies that suggest a magmatic origin. Thus, c. 835 Ma is interpreted as the eclogite protolith age. Unzoned CL-grey or -bright zircon and zircon rims from four samples yield weighted mean ages of 430 ± 4, 438 ± 2, 446 ± 10 and 446 ± 3 Ma, flat HREE patterns without Eu anomalies, and contain inclusions of garnet, omphacite, rutile, phengite and rare coesite. These ages are interpreted to record 16 ± 5 Myr of UHP metamorphism. These new UHP ages overlap the age range of both eclogite and paragneiss from the northern Dulan area, suggesting that all UHP rock types in the Dulan area belong to the same tectonic unit. Our results are consistent with slow continental subduction, but do not match oceanic subduction and diapiric exhumation UHP model predictions. These new data suggest that, similar to eclogites in other HP/UHP units of the NQM and South Altyn Tagh, protoliths of the eclogites in the Dulan area formed in a continental setting during the Neoproterozoic, and then subducted to mantle depth together with continental materials during the Early Palaeozoic.


This article was originally published in Journal of Metamorphic Geology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of Metamorphic Geology


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