Metamorphic evolution of (ultra)-high-pressure subduction-related transient crust in the South Tianshan Orogen (Central Asian Orogenic Belt): Geodynamic implications

Klemd R, Gao J, Li J, Meyer M (2015)

Publication Language: English

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2015


Book Volume: 28

Pages Range: 1-25

Journal Issue: 1

DOI: 10.1016/


The study of subduction-related high-pressure- and ultra-high-pressure metamorphic rocks exposed in orogenic belts is critical for unraveling the tectonothermal evolution of an orogen. The South Tianshan Orogen of the southwestern Central Asian Orogenic Belt, one of the world's largest accretionary orogens, contains several Paleozoic (ultra-)high-pressure ((U)HP) metamorphic terranes. (U)HP eclogitesblueschists and associated (U)HP metasedimentary rocks of continental and oceanic origin were reported from two localities in the Northern Tianshan (NTS) of Kazakhstanand Kyrgyzstan, namely from the Ordovician Aktyuz and Makbal metamorphic terranes. Furthermore Lower Carboniferous (U)HP eclogites and blueschists of oceanic origin are located in the Southern Tianshan Accretionary Complex (STAC) of southern Kyrgyzstan (Atbashi) and northwestern China (Akeyazi).

The continentally-derived Aktyuz eclogite is considered to have experienced a continuous clockwise prograde P–T path with peak metamorphic conditions of ca. 1.6–2.1 GPa at 610–670 °C, corresponding to a burial depth of about 70 km. A peak metamorphic Lu–Hf garnet isochron age of 474 ± 2 Ma for the retrogressed eclogite of continental origin is in accordance with a Sm–Nd garnet isochron age of 462 ± 7 Ma interpreted as time of cooling and decompression of the metamorphic rock assemblage below 650 to 600 °C. Quantitative P–T pseudosection modeling for peripheral Makbal HP garnet amphibolites of continental origin also revealed a continuous clockwise P–T path with peak-metamorphic conditions of ca. 1.4 GPa at ca. 620 °C followed by an isothermal uplift to ca. 0.7 GPa. Furthermore, prograde P–T paths of oceanically-derived central Makbal high-pressure metabasic rocks revealed peak metamorphic conditions between 520 °C and 560 °C at 2.2 GPa to 2.5 GPa with subsequent isothermal decompressions. The metamorphic (P–T) evolution of a garnet–chloritoid–talc schist is exhibited by a P–T trajectory starting ca. 480 °C at 2.5 GPa, followed by peak pressures of ca. 2.85 GPa at 525 °C and peak temperatures of ca. 580 °C at 2.4 GPa. A Lu–Hf peak metamorphic age of 470.1 ± 2.5 Ma for a peripheral garnet amphibolite is in accordance with a garnet-growth Sm–Nd age of 475 ± 4 Ma of the UHP garnet–chloritoid–talc schist. Different and variable P–T paths show that former oceanic and continental crust at Makbal was subducted to different maximum depths (HP versus UHP conditions). The (U)HP metamorphism of oceanic and continental mafic rocks from the Aktyuz and Makbal metamorphic terranes is assumed to have occurred in a similar time frame of between 500 and 460 Ma. The proposed geodynamic model for the HP Aktyuz metamorphic terrane incorporates the deep northeast-directed subduction of NTS continental crust under the Ankrakhai block of Paleo-Kazakhstan subsequent to the closure of the Djalair–Naiman Basin. At Makbal the final consumption of the oceanic crust of the Terskey Ocean to the northeast was immediately followed by the deep subduction of a (thinned) passive continental margin of the Central Tianshan Arc Terrane (CTA). Both scenarios are in accordance with continental-type subduction geodynamics producing the subduction-related (U)HP rocks during continental–continental collision processes. The exhumation of detached oceanic material by channel flow may have been initiated by the transient subduction of oceanic and subsequent continental crust. The Lower Carboniferous (U)HP metamorphic terranes (Atbashi and Akeyazi) in the Southern Tianshan Accretionary Complex are mainly composed of metasediments which host some lenses and boudins of oceanically-derived blueschists and eclogites. Most eclogites, blueschists and metasediments have experienced peak high-pressure metamorphism (480–580 °C at 1.4–2.1 GPa), while some slices display UHP-conditions (2.7–3.3 GPa at 570–630 °C). Multi-point Lu–Hf and Sm–Nd isochrons from several eclogite and blueschist samples from the Atbashi and Akeyazi metamorphic terranes revealed consistent ages of ca. 320–315 Ma for the peak of metamorphism, thereby confirming that (U)HP metamorphism occurred during a single subduction event. The highly variable peak metamorphic conditions displayed by the (U)HP rocks imply that metamorphism of the metasediments and the various metabasic rocks occurred in different depths of the subduction zone. (U)HP metabasites and metasediments exhibit different P–T paths, which is consistent with the chaotic incorporation in a subduction channel resulting in the eventual exhumation as a mélange. This scenario is much in agreement with initial subduction of oceanic crust and accretionary wedge sediment removal by subduction erosion and thus is similar to accretionary-type subduction terranes, although, with higher peak P–T conditions than previously recorded. The absence of significant melting, in combination with the variable peak pressure metamorphic conditions and the intimate interlayering of high- and ultrahigh-pressure rocks, suggests that the (U)HP rocks were derived from varying depths within the subduction zone and then juxtaposed during exhumation in the subduction channel. This is in accordance with exhumation of the (U)HP rocks by channel flow.

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Klemd, R., Gao, J., Li, J., & Meyer, M. (2015). Metamorphic evolution of (ultra)-high-pressure subduction-related transient crust in the South Tianshan Orogen (Central Asian Orogenic Belt): Geodynamic implications. Gondwana Research, 28(1), 1-25.


Klemd, Reiner, et al. "Metamorphic evolution of (ultra)-high-pressure subduction-related transient crust in the South Tianshan Orogen (Central Asian Orogenic Belt): Geodynamic implications." Gondwana Research 28.1 (2015): 1-25.

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