Crustal reworking at convergent margins traced by Fe isotopes in I-type intrusions from the Gangdese arc, Tibetan Plateau

Qi Wei Li, Oliver Nebel, Yona Nebel-Jacobsen, Marianne Richter, Rui Wang, Roberto Weinberg, Jun Hong Zhao, Peter A. Cawood

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Voluminous magmatism at active continental margins and collision zones is marked by I-type intrusions. Paleocene-Eocene intrusions, exposed in the Lhasa terrane of the Tibetan Plateau, are part of the Gangdese arc that operated during Neo-Tethyan ocean subduction and subsequent India-Asia collision. Arc-like geochemical trace element signatures and radiogenic isotope systematics are indicative of juvenile I-type magmatism with variable silica contents consequent to igneous differentiation. Here, we present the first Fe isotope data for this fossil arc terrane, which have highly variable δ 57 Fe values (relative to IRMM-014) of −0.05 to +0.57‰. The data show no obvious correlations with major and trace element systematics, except for highly evolved rocks with >70 wt% SiO 2 . Based on trace element systematics, deuteric fluid exsolution is excluded as a cause for the isotope variations in less evolved rocks. Furthermore, there is no apparent relation between Fe isotope values and the established tectonic evolution from syn- to post-collisional magmatism. Comparison with I-type granites of the Australian Lachlan Fold Belt and Cordilleran Snake River Plain reveals an, on average, lighter δ 57 Fe in the Gangdese suite in primitive lavas, yet distinctively heavier than intra-oceanic arcs. The heavier δ 57 Fe values for primitive Lachlan Fold Belt and Snake River Plain rocks are interpreted here as crustal contribution in the form of S-type magmas derived from crustal anatexis, which are absent in the Gangdese arc. Gangdese Belt data yield an average δ 57 Fe of +0.13 ± 0.02‰ (2σ), which is proposed as the best estimate for juvenile crust at active continental margins. Rhyolite-MELTS modelling suggests that the Gangdese Belt data can be reproduced through fractional crystallization along a liquid line of descent at oxygen fugacity between FMQ = 0 to +2, typical for arc-related melts. Crucially, the majority of data is coherent with partial melts of existing mafic crust as the major contributor to the juvenile component in the intrusions, with minor mantle-derived melts, evidenced through heavier primitive Fe isotopes. This indicates that for the Gangdese Belt samples, the primitive, parental melts are derived from lower crustal successions through predominantly crustal reworking with only subordinate crustal growth. Hence, the Fe isotope data indicates a two-step evolution with melting of underplated mafic material sometime in the geologic past. Although juvenile in nature, these successions are part of the existing crust, supporting scenarios in which crustal reworking in convergent margin intrusions is an important process in evolved magma generation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-55
Number of pages9
JournalChemical Geology
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2019


  • Crustal reworking
  • Fe isotopes
  • Gangdese arc
  • I-type intrusion
  • Juvenile crust

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