The Qilian Orogen of north western China records mid-Paleozoic collisional suturing of arc and continental blocks onto the south western margin of the North China craton. Silurian strata from the retroarc foreland basin mark the transition from ocean closure and northward subduction to the initiation of collision suturing. Detrital zircons were analysed from the western and eastern parts of the basin and show a spectrum of ages from Archean to Paleozoic with major age concentrations at around 2.5 Ga, 1.6 Ga, 1.2 Ga, 0.98 Ga, 0.7 Ga and 0.45 Ga. Archean age grains are derived from the North China craton, whereas the Central Qilian Bloc, which lies to the south provides the likely source for the bulk of the Proterozoic detritus. Paleozoic grains are restricted to Early Silurian samples from the western part of the basin and are considered to have been derived from the magmatic arc related to ocean closure and ultimate collision of the Central Qilian Belt with the North China craton.
- Detrital zircon
- North Qilian