Tracing a late Mesozoic magmatic arc along the Southeast Asian margin from the granitoids drilled from the northern South China Sea

Changhai Xu, Hesheng Shi, Calvin G. Barnes, Zuyi Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

The granitoid suites encountered by drilling in the northern South China Sea (SCS) remain important for understanding the evolution of the late Mesozoic Southeast Asian continental margin. They comprise a range of rock types including diorite, tonalite, granodiorite, monzogranite and syenogranite with SiO2 spanning 56.4-76.8%. Newly acquired secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) U-Pb ages of samples from 14 boreholes indicate two key magmatic episodes: Late Jurassic (161.6-148.2 Ma) and Early Cretaceous (136.5-101.7 Ma). Jurassic magmatism probably began in late Middle Jurassic time, documented by the dates of inherited zircons. The granitoids are dominated by metaluminous to weakly peraluminous I-type granites, are transitional between magnesian and ferroan, and encompass calc-alkaline, high-K calc-alkaline, and shoshonitic series. The geochemical signatures suggest that these granitoids were mostly generated in a normal continental arc environment. Notable features of the I-type samples are well-defined negative Nb-Ta-Ti anomalies typical of arc-related magmas. Taken together, the late Mesozoic arc granites of the SCS, the accretionary wedge of the Palawan terrane to the southeast, and the zone of lithospheric extension north of the SCS throughout Southeast China, define a southeast-to-northwest trench-arc-backarc architecture for the late Mesozoic Southeast Asian continental margin whose geodynamic setting is related to subduction of the Palaeo-Pacific slab beneath the Asian continent. Two key subduction episodes are recognized, one in Late Jurassic and the other in Early Cretaceous time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-94
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Geology Review
Volume58
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016

Keywords

  • Drilled granitoids
  • late Mesozoic
  • magmatic arc
  • north SCS

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