Mesozoic basin development and its indication of collisional orogeny in the Dabie orogen

Research paper by ShaoFeng Liu, GuoWei Zhang

Indexed on: 08 Nov '12Published on: 08 Nov '12Published in: Chinese science bulletin = Kexue tongbao


The Dabie orogen underwent deep continental subduction, rapid exhumation, and the huge amount of erosion during the Mesozoic. Its tectonic evolution, especially how its evolution was recorded by sedimentary basins at the flanks of the Dabie orogen is one of the most important issues of the world’s attention. These years, newly studies of basin sedimentology, combined with structural geology, have shown a fundamental progress. The overall distribution of different basin types in the orogen indicates that shortening and thrusting at the margins of the orogen from the Late Triassic to the Early Cretaceous controlled the foreland basins, and extension, doming and rifting were initiated in the core of the orogen from the Jurassic to the Early Cretaceous and were expanded to the whole orogen after the Late Cretaceous. Therefore, The Dabie orogen records gradual transition from overall shortening and thrusting to dominantly extension and rift basin formation expanded from its core to its margins, although these shortening and extension overlapped in time from the Jurassic through Early Cretaceous at crustal levels. The unroofing ages of the ultra-high pressure (UHP) metamorphic rocks in the Dabie orogen change from Early Jurassic to Late Jurassic westward. The depth of exhumation increases eastwards. The sediment sources for the Hefei basin are mostly composed of the deeply exhumed, axial Dabie metamorphic complex, and the sediment sources for the Middle Yangtze basin are mostly from cover strata in the southern orogen and related strata with subjacent (i.e. subsequently overthrusted) Mianlue suture belt. Geodynamic analysis represents that continental collision between the North China Block and the South China Block along the Shangdan and Mianlue sutures, subsequently northwestward progradation of the Jiangnan fold and thrust belt, and the underthrusting of the North China Block along the Northern Boundary Fault of Qinling Range led to crustal thickening, gravitational spreading and balanced rebound of the resultant thick crustal welt, and multi-episodic exhumation of the HP/UHP metamorphic rocks. The future studies by the methods of tracing the Dabie orogeny through deposition in the marginal basins should focus on eastward extension of the Mianlue suture, thrust and overlap of the Dabie HP/UHP metamorphic block on different lithotectonic zones and basins along the northern South China Block, the structural framework of the source area of the basins in the syn-depositional stage, the basin lateral extension, huge amount of erosion and sediment transportation from the Dabie blanket and basement rocks, and recovery of subducted and removed structural units within the Dabie orogen, etc.