Isotopic spatial-temporal evolution of magmatic rocks in the Gangdese belt: Implications for the origin of Miocene post-collisional giant porphyry deposits in southern Tibet

Chen Hao Luo, Rui Wang, Roberto F. Weinberg, Zengqian Hou

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Crustal growth is commonly associated with porphyry deposit formation whether in continental arcs or collisional orogens. The Miocene high-K calc-alkaline granitoids in the Gangdese belt in southern Tibet, associated with porphyry copper deposits, are derived from the juvenile lower crust with input from lithospheric mantle trachytic magmas, and are characterized by adakitic affinity with high-Sr/Y and La/Yb ratios as well as high Mg# and more evolved isotopic ratios. Researchers have argued, lower crust with metal fertilization was mainly formed by previous subduction-related modification. The issue is that the arc is composed of three stages of magmatism including Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Paleocene-Eocene, with peaks of activity at 200 Ma, 90 Ma, and ca. 50 Ma, respectively. All three stages of arc growth are essentially similar in terms of their whole-rock geochemistry and Sr-Nd-Hf isotopic compositions, making it difficult to distinguish Miocene magma sources. This study is based on -430 bulk-rock Sr-Nd isotope data and -270 zircon Lu-Hf isotope data and >800 whole-rock geochemistry analyses in a 900-km-long section of the Gangdese belt. We found large scale variations along the length of the arc where the Nd-Hf isotopic ratios of the Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Paleocene-Eocene arc rocks change differently from east to west. A significant feature is that the spatial distribution of Nd-Hf isotopic values of the Paleocene-Eocene arc magmas and the Miocene granitoids, including metallogenic ones, are “bell-shaped” from east to west, with a peak of εNd(t) and εHf(t) at ~91°E. In contrast, the Jurassic and Cretaceous arc magmas have different isotopic distribution patterns as a function of longitude. The isotopic spatial similarity of the Paleocene-Eo-cene and Miocene suites suggests that the lower crust source of the metallogenic Miocene magmas is composed dominantly of the Paleocene-Eocene arc rocks. This is further supported by abundant inherited zircons dominated by Paleocene-Eocene ages in the Miocene rocks. Another important discovery from the large data set is that the Miocene magmatic rocks have higher Mg# and more evolved Sr-Nd-Hf isotopic compositions than all preceding magmatic arcs. These characteristics indicate that the involvement of another different source was required to form the Miocene magmatic rocks. Hybridization of the isotopically unevolved primary magmas with isotopically evolved, lithospheric mantle-derived trachytic magmas is consistent with the geochemical, xenolith, and seismic evidence and is essential for the Miocene crustal growth and porphyry deposit formation. We recognize that the crustal growth in the collisional orogen is a two-step process, the first is the subduction stage dominated by typical magmatic arc processes leading to lower crust fertilization, the second is the collisional stage dominated by partial melting of a subduction-modified lower crust and mixing with a lithospheric mantle-derived melt at the source depth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-324
Number of pages9
JournalGSA Bulletin
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

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