Detrital zircon U–Pb geochronology and geochemistry of late Neoproterozoic – early Cambrian sedimentary rocks in the Cathaysia Block: constraint on its palaeo-position in Gondwana supercontinent

Research paper by Chen Xiong, Yaoling Niu, Hongde Chen, Anqing Chen, Chenggong Zhang, Feng Li, Shuai Yang, Shenglin Xu

Indexed on: 28 Jul '20Published on: 01 Sep '19Published in: Geological magazine


We present updated U–Pb ages and Hf isotopic compositions of detrital zircons and whole-rock geochemical data to investigate the provenance and tectonic setting of late Neoproterozoic and early Cambrian sandstones from the Cathaysia Block, in order to offer new constraints on its tectonic evolution and its palaeo-position within the supercontinent. The source rocks for the studied sandstones were dominated by felsic–intermediate materials with moderate weathering history. U–Pb dating results show major populations at c. 2500 Ma, 1000–900 Ma and 870–716 Ma with subordinate peaks at 655–532 Ma, consistent with the global Neoarchean continental crust growth, assembly and break-up of Rodinia, and Pan-African Event associated with the formation of Gondwana. Zircon U–Pb ages and Hf isotopic data suggest that most derived from exotic terranes once connected to the Cathaysia Block. Using whole-rock geochemical analysis, it was determined that the studied sedimentary rocks were deposited in a passive continental margin and the Cathaysia and Yangtze blocks were part of the same continent; no Cambrian ocean existed between them. Compiling a detrital zircon dataset from Qiangtang, northern India, the Lhasa Terrane and Western Australia, the Cathaysia Block seems to be more similar to the Qiangtang and western part of the northern India margin, instead of having a direct connection with the Lhasa Terrane and Western Australia in the Gondwana reconstruction during the late Neoproterozoic and Cambrian eons.