International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 106, Issue 7, pp 2319–2342 | Cite as

Carboniferous rifted arcs leading to an archipelago of multiple arcs in the Beishan–Tianshan orogenic collages (NW China)

  • Zhonghua Tian
  • Wenjiao Xiao
  • Brian F. Windley
  • Ji’en Zhang
  • Zhiyong Zhang
  • Dongfang Song
Original Paper


The Beishan and East Tianshan Orogenic Collages in the southernmost Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB) record the final stages of evolution of the Paleo-Asian Ocean. These collages and their constituent arcs have an important significance for resolving current controversies regarding their tectonic setting and age, consequent accretionary history of the southern CAOB, and the closure time of the Paleo-Asian Ocean. In this paper, we present our work on the southern Mazongshan arc and the northern Hongyanjing Basin in the Beishan Orogenic Collage (BOC), and our comparison with the Bogda arc and associated basins in the East Tianshan Orogenic Collage. Field relationships indicate that the Pochengshan fault defines the boundary between the arc and basin in the BOC. Volcanic rocks including basalts and rhyolites in the Mazongshan arc have bimodal calc-alkaline characteristics, an enrichment in large ion lithophile elements such as Rb, Ba, and Pb and depletion in high field-strength elements (e.g., Nb and Ta), which were probably developed in a subduction-related tectonic setting. We suggest that these bimodal calc-alkaline volcanic rocks formed in rifted arcs instead of post-orogenic rifts with mantle plume inputs. By making detailed geochemical comparisons between the Mazongshan arc and the Bogda arc to the west, we further propose that they are similar and both formed in arc rifts, and helped generate a Carboniferous archipelago of multiple arcs in the southern Paleo-Asian Ocean. These data and ideas enable us to postulate a new model for the tectonic evolution of the southern CAOB.


Mazongshan arc Carboniferous Subduction-related arc Beishan Eastern Tianshan Central Asian Orogenic Belt 



We thank Dick Glen, Shoufa Lin, Nathan Cleven, Bo Wan, and Songjian Ao for their helpful discussions and assistance in joint field trips. Constructive comments and suggestions from Journal reviewers, Timothy Kusky and John Wakabayashi, are greatly appreciated. This work was financially supported by the 973 Program (2014CB440801), the Strategic Priority Research Program (B) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB18020203), the Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences, CAS (QYZDJ-SSW-SYS012), National Natural Science Foundation of China (41402183, 41230207, 41390441, and 41190075), and State Key Laboratory of Earthquake Dynamics (LED2013B03). This is a contribution to IGCP 592.

Supplementary material

531_2016_1428_MOESM1_ESM.doc (210 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 199 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhonghua Tian
    • 1
  • Wenjiao Xiao
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Brian F. Windley
    • 5
  • Ji’en Zhang
    • 2
  • Zhiyong Zhang
    • 2
  • Dongfang Song
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of GeologyChinese Academy of Geological SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Lithospheric Evolution, Institute of Geology and GeophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Xinjiang Research Center for Mineral Resources, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and GeographyChinese Academy of SciencesÜrümqiChina
  4. 4.CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth SciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.Department of GeologyThe University of LeicesterLeicesterUK

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