Reconstruction of the North China Craton within the Meso-Neoproterozoic supercontinents: evidence from large igneous provinces and rift sediments

Shuan-Hong Zhang1, Jun-Ling Pei1, Zai-Zheng Zhou2, Zhen-Yu Yang3, Yue Zhao1, Yuhang Cai1, Qi-Qi Zhang1, Guo-Hui Hu1, Sheng-Guang Zhuo4

1Institute of Geomechanics, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, Key Laboratory of Paleomagnetism and Tectonic Reconstruction, Ministry of Natural Resources, Beijing 100081, China;  2College of Earth Sciences and Engineering, Shandong University of Science and Technology, Qingdao 266590, China; 3College of Resources, Environment and Tourism, Capital Normal University, Beijing 100048, China; 4College of Resources and Materials, Northeastern University at Qinhuangdao, Qinhuangdao 066004, China

Large igneous provinces (LIPs) and rift sediments can provide robust tools for paleographic reconstructions of Precambrian supercontinents. In this presentation, we use correlations of the Meso-Neoproterozoic LIPs and magmatism and sedimentation in continental margin rift basins in North China Craton (NCC) and other continents, combined with the previously published paleomagnetic data, in order to give better constraints on paleopositions of the NCC within the Nuna (Columbia) and Rodinia supercontinents. Our results show that the NCC was adjacent to Siberia, Laurentia, Baltica, North Australian Craton (NAC) and India in the Nuna (Columbia) supercontinent, and the northern–northeastern margin of the NCC was connected with the northern margin of the NAC during the early-middle Mesoproterozoic period. Global spatial distributions of the 1.4-1.3 Ga LIPs and rift sediments and paleographic reconstructions suggested existence of a 1.4-1.3 Ga continental rift system between Laurentia, Siberia, Baltica, NAC and NCC, which resulted in breakup of the Nuna (Columbia) supercontinent. Interestingly, the ca. 1.30 Ga Bayan Obo world’s largest REE deposit and carbonatites in the northern NCC and the ca. 1.38–1.33 Ga Mountain Pass world’s second largest REE deposit and carbonatites in western margin of Laurentia are distributed in this rift system and are most likely related to 1.4–1.3 Ga continental rifting in the Nuna (Columbia) supercontinent.

New detrital zircon U-Pb and Hf isotopic data from the late Mesoproterozoic to Neoproterozoic sedimentary rocks in the eastern-southeastern NCC combined with paleomagnetic data suggest that during the late Mesoproterozoic to early Neoproterozoic period, the eastern-southeastern margin of the NCC was most likely connected to the western-southern Australian cratons in the Rodinia supercontinent. Breakup of the eastern-southeastern margin of the NCC from the western-southern Australian cratons occurred during 0.92-0.89 Ga as suggested by the Sariwon-Liaodong-Xuhuai mafic LIP in rifting basins in the eastern-southeastern NCC. During “Earth’s Middle Age” from 1.7 Ga to 0.75 Ga, the core of the Nuna (Columbia) and Rodinia supercontinents (including Laurentia, Siberia and Baltica) remains stable and these long-lived connections between Laurentia, Siberia and Baltica as the core of both Nuna and Rodinia suggest that the transition from Nuna to Rodinia was much less dramatic than the subsequent transition from Rodinia to Gondwana and Pangea, which is consistent with relatively lithospheric stability in “Earth’s Middle Age” that contrasts with the dramatic changes in preceding and succeeding eras.


Dr. Shuan-Hong Zhang’s research focuses mainly on Mesoproterozoic large igneous provinces and supercontinental reconstruction. He has published over two papers in Geology, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Earth-Science Reviews and Precambrian Research in last 10 years.

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