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Timing of the Meso-Tethys Ocean opening: Evidence from Permian sedimentary provenance changes in the South Qiangtang Terrane, Tibetan Plateau

Fan, Jian-Jun and Niu, Yaoling and Luo, An-Bo and Xie, Chao-Ming and Hao, Yu-Jie and Liu, Hai-Yong (2021) 'Timing of the Meso-Tethys Ocean opening: Evidence from Permian sedimentary provenance changes in the South Qiangtang Terrane, Tibetan Plateau.', Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology., 567 . p. 110265.


Timing of the opening of the Meso-Tethys Ocean, represented by the Bangong–Nujiang Suture Zone on the Tibetan Plateau, remains controversial. Further research is required to understand the breakup of the northern Gondwana margin and the tectonic evolution of the Tethyan realm. In this study, we present petrography, U-Pb dating and Hf isotopic data for detrital zircons from Upper Carboniferous–Upper Permian strata in the South Qiangtang Terrane on the Tibetan Plateau. These data, together with data from previous literature, indicate a youngest detrital zircon age peak of ca. 550 Ma for Upper Carboniferous–Lower Permian strata. This is far older than the depositional age of ca. 300 Ma and indicates a source in the stable Gondwana Continent. Upper Permian strata yield younger ages (490–247 Ma) with peaks at ca. 460, 355, 290 and 260 Ma, indicating a source in the active South Qiangtang Terrane. Combined with the unconformity between the Lower and Upper Permian strata in the western South Qiangtang Terrane, we conclude that a significant change in sedimentary provenance occurred at 280–260 Ma. This provenance change might have resulted from the 300–279 Ma rifting magmatism on the northern Indian margin of Gondwana (e.g., South Qiangtang). The 300–279 Ma magmatism is interpreted to reflect the early stages of rifting, and the subsequent 280–260 Ma sedimentary provenance change is interpreted as the later stage, both of which established a complete Early–Middle Permian (300–260 Ma) rifting process that marks the opening of the Meso-Tethys Ocean.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo until 08 February 2022.
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:© 2021 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:19 January 2021
Date deposited:19 February 2021
Date of first online publication:08 February 2021
Date first made open access:08 February 2022

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