Age and nature of eclogites in the Huwan shear zone, and the multi-stage evolution of the Qinling-Dabie-Sulu orogen, central China

Yuan Bao Wu, John M. Hanchar, Shan Gao, Paul J. Sylvester, Mike Tubrett, Hua Ning Qiu, Jan R. Wijbrans, Fraukje M. Brouwer, Sai Hong Yang, Qi Jun Yang, Yong Sheng Liu, Hong lin Yuan

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In situ LA-ICPMS U-Pb, trace element, and Hf isotope data in zircon demonstrate a Carboniferous age for eclogite-facies metamorphism in Siluro-Devonian protoliths in the Huwan shear zone, Dabie Mountains, Central China. This age contrasts with the more prevailing Triassic age for high- to ultrahigh pressure (HP to UHP) metamorphism in the Qinling-Dabie-Sulu orogen. Metamorphic zircon in two eclogite samples from Sujiahe is characterized by low Th/U ratios, small negative Eu anomalies, flat HREE patterns, and low 176Lu/177Hf ratios. These geochemical signatures suggest that the zircon crystallized in the presence of garnet and in the absence of plagioclase feldspar. Furthermore, temperatures of ~ 655 and ~ 638 °C, calculated using the Ti content of zircon, are consistent with their formation during eclogite-facies metamorphism. The weighted mean 206Pb/238U age of 309 ± 4 Ma (2δ) for this zircon improves previous age estimates for eclogite-facies metamorphism in the Huwan shear zone, ranging from 420 to 220 Ma. Metamorphic zircon from one eclogite sample from Hujiawan, most likely formed during prograde metamorphism, yields an equivalent age estimate of 312 ± 11 Ma. Magmatic zircon cores in the three samples yield ages for the magmatic protoliths of the eclogites ranging from 420 ± 7 to 406 ± 5 Ma, and post-dating the middle Paleozoic collision of the North China and the Qinling terrain. The zircon crystals in the three eclogite samples display a large variation of εHf (t) values of - 4.9 to 21.3. The metamorphic zircon overgrowths show the same range of εHf (t) values as those of the inherited magmatic crystal interiors. This suggests that the metamorphic zircon overgrowths may have formed by dissolution-reprecipitation of pre-existing magmatic zircon thereby preserving their original Hf isotopic composition. The high εHf (t) values suggest that the protoliths were derived from depleted mantle sources, most likely Paleotethyan oceanic crust; while the low εHf (t) values are attributed to crustal contamination. Some eclogites in the Huwan shear zone have a distinctive signature of continental crust most probably derived from the Yangtze Craton. The coexistence of Paleozoic oceanic crust and Neoproterozoic continental crust with similar metamorphic ages in the Huwan shear zone implies that Paleozoic Paleotethyan oceanic crust was produced within a marginal basin of the northern Yangtze Craton. The opening of the Paleo-Tethyan ocean was slightly younger than the collision of the North China Craton and the Qinling terrain during the Late Paleozoic in the Qinling-Dabie-Sulu orogen. Subduction of the Paleo-Tethyan oceanic crust and associated continental basement resulted in the 309 ± 2 Ma (2σ) eclogite-facies metamorphism in the Huwan shear zone. The subsequent Triassic continent-continent collision led to the final coalescence of the Yangtze and Sino-Korean cratons. Amalgamation of the Yangtze and North China cratons was, therefore, a multistage process extending over at least 200 Ma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-354
Number of pages10
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jan 30 2009


  • Hf isotopes
  • Huwan shear zone
  • Paleotethyan oceanic crust
  • Qinling-Dabie orogen
  • zircon U-Pb ages


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