The Central Tianshan Block: A microcontinent with a Neoarchean-Paleoproterozoic basement in the southwestern Central Asian Orogenic Belt

Journal article

Publication Details

Author(s): Wang XS, Gao J, Klemd R, Jiang T, Li J, Zhang X, Xue S
Journal: Precambrian Research
Publication year: 2017
Volume: 295
Pages range: 130-150
ISSN: 0301-9268
Language: English


The Central Tianshan Block (CTB) is one of the major continental constituents of the western Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB). Its nature and origin is essential for understanding the accretionary processes and the reconstruction of the architectural framework of the CAOB. The Wuwamen Metamorphic Complex (WMC), which is believed to represent the basement of the CTB, was incorporated into the Wuwamen ophiolitic mélange during the Paleozoic evolution of the South Tianshan Ocean. The WMC is mainly composed of amphibolite-facies volcano-sedimentary rocks, including migmatites, orthogneisses, amphibolites, schists and locally marbles. Zircon U–Pb geochronology suggests that the protoliths of the interlayered biotite-two feldspar and biotite-plagioclase-hornblende gneisses in the Yangjuan area were formed between 2529 and 2513 Ma and overprinted by amphibolite-facies metamorphism between 1815 and 1809 Ma. Subsequently, the gneisses were intruded by ∼1724 Ma meta-mafic dykes and ∼787 Ma leucogranite dykes/veins. Geochemical data reveal that the biotite-two feldspar gneisses have high-silica adakite affinities with high SiO2 and Na2O contents as well as high Sr/Y ratios (61–117) and slightly evolved zircon Hf isotopic compositions. Consequently, they are interpreted to be the products of partial melting of relatively old subducted oceanic crust. In contrast, the interlayered biotite-plagioclase-hornblende gneisses have high MgO, Cr, Co and Ni contents and prominent negative Nb–Ta–Ti anomalies, indicating derivation from partial melting of an ancient sub-continental lithospheric mantle in a continental arc setting. The ∼1.72 Ga meta-mafic dykes have geochemical similarities of typical Fe-Ti basalts and are characterized by incompatible element enrichments and primitive Sr–Nd–Hf isotopic signatures ((87Sr/86Sr)i = 0.703446 − 0.703535); ɛNd(t) = +6.49 to +6.90; zircon ɛHf(t) = +0.57 to +10.6), which is consistent with partial melting of a relatively fertile, isotopically depleted asthenospheric mantle in a post-collisional extensional setting. In addition, the ∼787 Ma leucogranites are trondhjemitic in composition and display extremely low total REE contents and highly evolved Nd–Hf isotopic signatures (ɛNd(t) = −4.71 to −4.53; zircon ɛHf(t) = −19.4 to −13.0). They are thought to have no petrogenetic relationship with the host orthogneisses and to be products of a foreign melt injection. Our new data provide robust evidence for a Neoarchean–Paleoproterozoic basement of the CTB. Comparison of the tectono-thermal-magmatic events reveals that the CTB and the Tarim Craton have a partly overlapping Precambrian crustal evolution, and thus the CTB could have originated from the Tarim Craton. However, a major difference between both is the presence of juvenile Mesoproterozoic magmatism in the CTB and its absence in the Tarim Craton and, therefore, further geological and geochronological research is required to determine the precise origin of the CTB and its tectonic affinity with adjacent terranes in the western CAOB.

FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Klemd, Reiner Prof. Dr.
Professur für Geochemie und Lagerstättenkunde
Li, Jilei
Professur für Geochemie und Lagerstättenkunde

External institutions with authors

China Geological Survey (CGS) / 中国地质调查局
China University of Geosciences / 中国地质大学
Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) / 中国科学院

How to cite

Wang, X.-S., Gao, J., Klemd, R., Jiang, T., Li, J., Zhang, X., & Xue, S. (2017). The Central Tianshan Block: A microcontinent with a Neoarchean-Paleoproterozoic basement in the southwestern Central Asian Orogenic Belt. Precambrian Research, 295, 130-150.

Wang, Xin-Shui, et al. "The Central Tianshan Block: A microcontinent with a Neoarchean-Paleoproterozoic basement in the southwestern Central Asian Orogenic Belt." Precambrian Research 295 (2017): 130-150.


Last updated on 2019-06-06 at 12:10