Mid-Neoproterozoic Tadong amphibolites at the junction of the East Kunlun and Western Qinling Orogens – a record of continental rifting during the break-up of Rodinia


Mid-Neoproterozoic rift-related Tadong amphibolites (TDA) are situated in the junction of the East Kunlun Orogen (EKO) and the West Qinling Orogen (WQO) in western China, and have important significance in the break-up of the Supercontinent Rodinia. The mineral assemblage of the TDA exhibits amphibolite facies metamorphism, and the protolith is basic volcanic rocks. Here, we present a detailed laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) zircon U–Pb age and geochemical data of TDA. LA-ICP-MS U–Pb zircon age determination indicates that the basic volcanics formed at ca. 743–711 Ma. Geochemically, TDAs are characterized by low SiO2 (46.06–50.18%), K2O (0.66–1.86%), and Mg# (40–45) and high TiO2 (1.9–3.5%), and are attributed to tholeiite basalts. Their chondrite-normalized REE patterns are characterized by moderate enrichments in LREEs (LREE/HREE = 4.98–5.51) with insignificant Eu anomalies (δEu = 0.99–1.12). The primitive mantle-normalized trace element diagrams are characterized by pronounced enrichment of high-field-strength elements (HFSEs, e.g. REE, Nb, Ta, Zr, Hf) with slightly positive anomalies of Ti, which is different from the subduction zone basalts and normal mid-ocean ridge basalts (NMORBs), but similar to the ocean-island basalts (OIBs) and Emeishan continental flood basalts (ECFBs), resembling the features of an OIB-like mantle source. Most samples exhibit high Nb/Ta (16.6–17.4), Nb/La (0.70–0.94), and positive ΔNb (ΔNb = 1.74 + log (Nb/Y) − 1.92*log (Zr/Y)) values. These geochemical features suggest that the Tadong basaltic rocks were most likely derived from an OIB-like mantle source and were the products of a lower degree partial melting of garnet lherzolite. Along with the tectonic discrimination diagrams, it is further inferred that these rocks were formed in a continental rifting setting. These results from our research confirm the existence of continental rifting in the junction of the EKO and the WQO in the mid-late Neoproterozoic, implying that the rifting is a response to the break-up of the Supercontinent Rodinia.